The Hole Picture

Yesterday I didn’t feel good. Nothing serious, I’m happy to say. But I didn’t make it out of bed most of the day. So I am presenting to you an oldie but goodie.

I recently read an article someone had posted on Facebook about the so-called Best Doughnuts in the city in which the person lived. Being the daughter and the sister of men who have made literally thousands and thousands of doughnuts between the two of them – and a doughnut-lover of the first degree myself – I was very interested to see just what sorts of doughnuts made the top 10 list.

After about the third doughnut on the list that purported to be a “healthier alternative” by being baked rather than fried, I abandoned ship. Donuts aren’t baked. Donuts are fried. Doughnuts, my friends, are not meant to be healthy. You want healthy, have a whole-grain bagel or a smoothie made with spinach and acai. My dad was rolling in his grave.

When we were in Italy back in 2008, we spent two weeks living in an apartment in Rome. Right across the street was a restaurant that opened in the morning and served food all day. Italians aren’t much for breakfast. They might have a doppio espresso or a cappuccino and something sweet if they have anything. Bill – a true-blue doughnut lover himself – had read that the Italian word for doughnut was bomboloni. So he walked into the restaurant the first morning, pointed to the doughnuts sitting on the counter, and confidently asked for two bomboloni.  The man working the counter literally laughed out loud.

“No bomboloni,” he said, still snickering. “Ciambelle.”

Whatevah, Bill thought.

But having grown up around doughnuts, I knew why the man laughed. Bomboloni are filled doughnuts, what we might call bismarks. Ciambelle are the doughnuts with which many of us are most familiar – round with a hole in the middle, generally covered in glaze. It would be like going into a doughnut shop, pointing to a glazed doughnut and asking for one of those bismarks. A subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless. Those particular doughnuts – or ciambelle – were thickly covered in granulated sugar and sat on top of about a half-inch of additional sugar. They were delicious. I had one daily for the whole time we were in Rome. Bill would wash his hands after eating one. I licked my fingers. I wish I had one right now.

And they were fried, not baked. Because doughnuts are fried, no matter what country.

My brother, who has been in a bakery nearly every day of his life and KNOWS HIS DOUGHNUTS, told me this when I asked him what, in his opinion, constitutes a good doughnut: When I am testing doughnuts, I eat them with no glaze and cooled off. Because as dad said, you can put glaze on a hot pile of s**t and it would taste good. Not greasy and light is good.

Dave’s aforementioned quote from my dad is straight from the horse’s mouth, of course, curse word and all. My dad had a way with words. But it is how he justified people’s love for Krispie Kreme doughnuts. As you can tell, he wasn’t a Krispie Kreme fan, nor is my brother. I tend to agree. They’re good when they’re hot. When they’re cool, they’re ordinary.

By the way, we Gloors are all rather an opinionated bunch when it comes to bakery items, and to baking itself. One of my pet peeves when watching cooking shows is when the cheerful chef tells the viewer to put your cake in the oven and COOK IT for 40 minutes. Every time I hear that – EVERY SINGLE TIME – I say through gritted teeth, “Bake it, not cook it.” But I recently was with my brother when someone talked about cooking something in the oven, and I was pleased when I heard him say, “Bake in the oven, not cook.” There’s right and wrong, people.

But I digress.

I wrote a blog post not that long ago about doughnuts, because apparently I’m obsessed with them. Fried doughnuts, not baked. It was after I visited Voodoo Doughnuts, a doughnut shop that originated in the northwest and has since expanded to other states. Its popularity isn’t based on the doughnuts being inexpensive, as they ran in the neighborhood of $15 a dozen.

But even though in my opinion doughnuts are not supposed to look like this…..

….at least they were fried. See above. Have I mentioned that doughnuts are not health food?

One last thing I learned from my brother yesterday about doughnuts: one sign of a good doughnut apparently is if it has a clear skunkline. What is that, you may ask? I myself didn’t know until yesterday. The skunkline is the white line that goes around a nicely fried doughnut. Here are examples of doughnuts perfectly fried by my brother……

Having wasted over 800 words on the topic of doughnuts, I will leave you with this so that you can know that our love for doughnuts runs in our family, as Dagny demonstrates…..

 

This post linked to the GRAND Social

 

The Hole Picture

I recently read an article someone had posted on Facebook about the so-called Best Doughnuts in the city in which the person lived. Being the daughter and the sister of men who have made literally thousands and thousands of doughnuts between the two of them – and a doughnut-lover of the first degree myself – I was very interested to see just what sorts of doughnuts made the top 10 list.

After about the third doughnut on the list that purported to be a “healthier alternative” by being baked rather than fried, I abandoned ship. Donuts aren’t baked. Donuts are fried. Doughnuts, my friends, are not meant to be healthy. You want healthy, have a whole-grain bagel or a smoothie made with spinach and acai. My dad was rolling in his grave.

When we were in Italy back in 2008, we spent two weeks living in an apartment in Rome. Right across the street was a restaurant that opened in the morning and served food all day. Italians aren’t much for breakfast. They might have a doppio espresso or a cappuccino and something sweet if they have anything. Bill – a true-blue doughnut lover himself – had read that the Italian word for doughnut was bomboloni. So he walked into the restaurant the first morning, pointed to the doughnuts sitting on the counter, and confidently asked for two bomboloni.  The man working the counter literally laughed out loud.

“No bomboloni,” he said, still snickering. “Ciambelle.”

Whatevah, Bill thought.

But having grown up around doughnuts, I knew why the man laughed. Bomboloni are filled doughnuts, what we might call bismarks. Ciambelle are the doughnuts with which many of us are most familiar – round with a hole in the middle, generally covered in glaze. It would be like going into a doughnut shop, pointing to a glazed doughnut and asking for one of those bismarks. A subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless. Those particular doughnuts – or ciambelle – were thickly covered in granulated sugar and sat on top of about a half-inch of additional sugar. They were delicious. I had one daily for the whole time we were in Rome. Bill would wash his hands after eating one. I licked my fingers. I wish I had one right now.

And they were fried, not baked. Because doughnuts are fried, no matter what country.

My brother, who has been in a bakery nearly every day of his life and KNOWS HIS DOUGHNUTS, told me this when I asked him what, in his opinion, constitutes a good doughnut: When I am testing doughnuts, I eat them with no glaze and cooled off. Because as dad said, you can put glaze on a hot pile of s**t and it would taste good. Not greasy and light is good.

Dave’s aforementioned quote from my dad is straight from the horse’s mouth, of course, curse word and all. My dad had a way with words. But it is how he justified people’s love for Krispie Kreme doughnuts. As you can tell, he wasn’t a Krispie Kreme fan, nor is my brother. I tend to agree. They’re good when they’re hot. When they’re cool, they’re ordinary.

By the way, we Gloors are all rather an opinionated bunch when it comes to bakery items, and to baking itself. One of my pet peeves when watching cooking shows is when the cheerful chef tells the viewer to put your cake in the oven and COOK IT for 40 minutes. Every time I hear that – EVERY SINGLE TIME – I say through gritted teeth, “Bake it, not cook it.” But I recently was with my brother when someone talked about cooking something in the oven, and I was pleased when I heard him say, “Bake in the oven, not cook.” There’s right and wrong, people.

But I digress.

I wrote a blog post not that long ago about doughnuts, because apparently I’m obsessed with them. Fried doughnuts, not baked. It was after I visited Voodoo Doughnuts, a doughnut shop that originated in the northwest and has since expanded to other states. Its popularity isn’t based on the doughnuts being inexpensive, as they ran in the neighborhood of $15 a dozen.

But even though in my opinion doughnuts are not supposed to look like this…..

….at least they were fried. See above. Have I mentioned that doughnuts are not health food?

One last thing I learned from my brother yesterday about doughnuts: one sign of a good doughnut apparently is if it has a clear skunkline. What is that, you may ask? I myself didn’t know until yesterday. The skunkline is the white line that goes around a nicely fried doughnut. Here are examples of doughnuts perfectly fried by my brother……

Having wasted over 800 words on the topic of doughnuts, I will leave you with this so that you can know that our love for doughnuts runs in our family, as Dagny demonstrates…..

 

This post linked to the GRAND Social

 

Bargains

The town in which I spent my youth had a sidewalk sale every year. I guess I should really call it the Sidewalk Sale (with caps), as it was not just a sale, but quite a special event. All of the downtown stores would pull outside their racks of clothes and shoes, or their jewelry cases, or shelves filled with notions or hardware or inexpensive jewelry with markdown prices. That day, the town would fill up with shoppers, both folks from in town and others from nearby farms throughout Platte County and beyond, all looking for bargains.

In our case, we pulled out enormous cases filled with baked goods, but primarily glazed doughnuts. My dad made delicious glazed yeast doughnuts. One of my cousins recently described my dad’s doughnuts as being so light they practically floated. And on the day of the sidewalk sale, we sold our glazed doughnuts, which normally cost 65 cents a dozen for half price.  So you can imagine just how many dozens and dozens and dozens of doughnuts we sold on the day of the Sidewalk Sale. Those doughnuts were not manufactured by any kind of automated system as they are at Krispie Kreme. My dad would cut each doughnut by hand. I remember that with one movement, my dad would cut the doughnut, and throw it up over his thumb, thereby knocking out the doughnut hole, until he couldn’t fit any more on his thumb. I can still hear the thump, thump, thump as he cut each doughnut, one at a time. Once his thumb was full, he would lay them out on the screen to put into the proof box to rise. He could fill a screen full of doughnuts faster than Krispie Kreme ever imagined.

So on the day of the Sidewalk Sale, he and another baker were in the back cutting, proofing, frying, and glazing doughnuts nonstop. At regular intervals, my mom would come out with a new tray of freshly fried and glazed doughnuts, and place them in the showcase. I remember two specific things about working on Sidewalk Sale Day. First, it was a never-ending battle to keep flies out of the showcase. It was Nebraska in the summertime, people. One of the bakery clerks (often Bec or me) was constantly pounding on the outside of the case while another (often Bec or me) was making sure that the annoying insect flew away. No sooner would one be gone than another would sneak in. It was a never-ending battle, but we were quite successful, if relentless.

And the second thing I remember is that, one-after-another, people would ask, “Are those doughnuts fresh?” Are they fresh? Are they fresh? Seriously? Because we can hardly even pick them up to put in a box because they are so dang hot. To the moon, Alice…..

People love a bargain, don’t they? That’s why places like Goodwill and T.J. Maxx stay in existence. I like a bargain as much as the next guy.

My niece Maggie recently told me about a bargain of which I was unaware. It seems Jimmy John’s sells yesterday’s bread for half a buck a loaf. I’m talking those big loaves of bread that are something like 15 or 16 inches long. Maggie uses them when she makes her delicious Cuban sandwiches. The other day, when she included Bill and me in a dinner of Cuban sandwiches, I offered to pick up the bread from Jimmy John’s.  Sure enough, a pyramid of French bread loaves sat on the JJ’s counter, selling for 45 cent each. I purchased 4 loaves. The young woman waiting on me who, up until that point, had been speaking in a normal voice, suddenly said something to me in what the Romans would call sotto voce. She had a surreptitious look about her and I suddenly felt like I was part of a detective movie. “Pardon me?” I said. “Could you repeat that?”

In a bit louder whisper, yet still barely moving her lips, she said, “Take them from the bottom of the pile; they’re better.”

Ah ha. Nice girl. Bottom of the pile it was.

At any rate, it reminded me of the day-old bread rack at our bakery. Each night, at closing time, one of the jobs of whoever was closing the store was to bag up the leftover doughnuts and rolls, and gather up any loaves of bread that hadn’t sold that day, and place the whole kit-and-kaboodle on the day-old rack. The next day, those goodies would be sold at half price to thrifty shoppers, most of whom were farmers because they are eager for a bargain and are the early birds that get the worms.

That brought the 29 cent loaf of bread down to a whopping 14 cents. Imagine…..

Fried Goodness

voo-doo-donut-boxI started working at my dad’s bakery when I was 14 years old. I reckon that’s about the same age as my siblings, all of whom worked for Dad for varying number of years. My brother will argue that he worked for Dad (unpaid) from the time he was 2. That in fact may be true. He was the only boy, after all, and so destined to be a baker, at least in my Dad’s eyes. Which, I might add, became true.

All this is to say that when I was 14 years old (hmmmm, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1967 or 1968), bread was 29 cents a loaf. But more to the point of this blog post, doughnuts (or D-O-N-U-T-S as they are now commonly spelled) were 65 cents a dozen. A DOZEN. The very best glazed doughnuts that you can imagine. Doughnuts that were so light they practically floated in the air according to one of my cousins who was well acquainted with the bakery.

I am quite familiar with inflation. Store-bought bread now costs somewhere between 3 and 4 dollars a loaf, and it isn’t even half as good as that my father made. But I also probably earned something like a buck fifty an hour. It’s called inflation, and it’s inevitable.

Still, it didn’t stop me from being shocked recently when I purchased doughnuts to treat a friend of mine. I had offered to bring breakfast or lunch to her house. She is going through chemotherapy, and so when she told me the one thing that sounded good was doughnuts, well, I was more than happy to comply. First (and I assure you, foremost) because I want to be a good friend, but second, because I LOVE DOUGHNUTS.

I always have; I always will. They are flat-out delicious.

Breakfast treats are cyclical. I remember when the whole bagel thing became, well, a thing. Bagel shops were popping up all over the place. Bagels are okay. In fact, I like a bagel about as much as I like any breakfast food. (Except now with my low-fiber diet, I can’t eat my favorite which is an Everything bagel. But I substitute Asiago, and it’s nearly as good.)

Then we went through a doughnut phase. Krispie Kremes were built all over Denver. There were lines like at an Adele concert to purchase these sweet treats at all hours of the day and night. After a couple of years, you could hear the sound of crickets chirping at the doughnut shops, and they began to close down. My dad would have said (and my brother would concur), “Good riddance to bad doughnuts.” He didn’t think much of Krispie Kreme doughnuts, and I admit that, while there’s nothing quite as good as a warm Krispie Kreme glazed doughnut, after they have cooled off five minutes later, they’re just ordinary. Haters, don’t hate.

But back to my most recent doughnut purchase. There is a doughnut shop that opened up maybe a year or so ago called Voodoo Doughnuts. The original store is in Portland, OR, and they have only opened a couple more following their rip-roaring success there – one in Denver, and most recently in Austin, TX. We were in AZ when the Denver store opened, but there were apparently lines blocks long to purchase these doughnuts. The bakery is far from my house, so I have never bothered to go.

However, I knew that my friend likes these particular doughnuts and it is located very near her house. That’s where I decided to go.

It was midmorning when I got there, so the lines had died down. I only had a short wait. Which was just enough time to get over my shock when I saw the price of a dozen doughnuts. My friends, a dozen of mixed doughnuts was $15. For 12 pieces of dough covered with frosting.

Oh, and all sorts of oddball toppings such as Rice Krispies and Fruit Loops and Cocoa Puffs. My dad’s head was undoubtedly spinning……

voo-doo-donut-fruit-loops

I bit the bullet and made my purchase. When I got to my friend’s house, she poured me a cup of very good coffee and we had our doughnuts in her back yard. I will admit that the yeast doughnuts were quite tasty. The cake doughnuts, well, maybe a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps it was the grape Kool Aid coating. And you think I’m kidding.

box-voo-doo-donuts

Our favorite doughnuts these days come from Basha’s markets in Arizona, where, shockingly, my brother works. But I know doughnuts, and I know they are exceptionally good. And they cost – wait for it – 75 cents apiece. But no Fruit Loops.

By the way, since parking was hard to find at Voodoo Doughnuts given that it is located just this side of the state capitol building, I took a chance and parked illegally where a sign warned me not to park. As I walked back to my car, I saw that a patrolman was writing me a ticket. I thought about offering him a Kool Aid doughnut as a bribe, but he pulled away just as I walked up. So add another $50 to my dozen doughnuts!

They Came; They Saw; They Conquered

Dust Devil:  a strong, well-formed, and relatively long-lived whirlwind, ranging from small (half a meter wide and a few meters tall) to large (more than 10 meters wide and more than 1000 meters tall). The primary vertical motion is upward.

joseph micah donuts vehiclesThey remind me of dust devils.

Our two Vermont grandkids arrived late Friday night, and went straight to bed. That was pretty much the last time I saw them be relatively still. Even while sleeping, they seem to be in motion.

Their parents have that familiar look – somewhere between pride and panic, with eyes mostly glazed over from a lack of sleep. All parents of young kids have that look at some point. You want to give them a hug and send them off for a week on a tropical isle to do nothing but sleep. Except they would leave you entirely responsible for the whirling dervishes they would leave behind in your care.  And they might not come back.

Six-year-old Joseph and his brother Micah – only days from joseph nutellabeing 3 – are up early, and with a vengeance. The first morning, Joseph put away pancakes –chocolate chips and smeared with Nutella please – and topped it off with some scrambled eggs. It takes a lot of pancakes to keep that 6-year-old motion machine going. Following breakfast, they checked out Nana and Papa’s backyard, rode the various and sundry scooters and other vehicles that are available, watched Papa work on the playhouse that they hope is completed or near completed by time they leave (so does Nana!), and eagerly awaited the arrival of their cousins Addie, Alastair, Dagny, and Magnolia (hereafter referred to as the cousins, which is what Joseph and Micah, as well as Kaiya and Mylee, call them.

After the arrival of the cousins, it was quite some time before I saw any of them again.

Saturday, after spending the afternoon and evening with the cousins at the swimming pool, their Aunt Jll dropped them back off at our house. Heather and Lauren were tied up all evening at Heather’s 20 year high school reunion. The dust devils washed their hands, got in their pajamas, used the potty, dropped into their beds, and fell asleep in about 10 seconds. (Well, in Micah’s case, he dropped onto the cozy little bed made out of a comforter and blanket nestled on the floor next to Joseph’s bed – there’s only so much room at the inn, and my sister Bec is visiting too – but she’s neither a whirling dervish nor a dust devil; she just sits back and watches in amazement).

Several hours later, after the household had fallen asleep, I micah vehicleheard sniffles and muffled sobs coming from that little nest on the floor. Micah, holding on to his sleeping companion – a raggedy stuffed animal named Night Night – and sucking his thumb, was sad. “I want Mommy,” he sobbed. Despite my 61 years, I curled up on the floor next to him, told him they would return, and committed to staying with him until they did. He gave me a look of slight distrust, but apparently decided he was stuck with the B Team and better make the best of it.

I, for my part, kept my commitment. After all, a) if he can’t trust his nana, whom can he trust; and b) I only see these grandboys a few times a year and must enjoy every minute. So I wrapped my arms around him and took in his little boy smell and listened as his sobs subsided and he fell back into a sound sleep.

joseph micah stuffed animalsAfter a trip to Krispie Kreme with their Papa on Sunday morning, they were off for a few days to wear out another grandma as they enjoy a few days in the mountains, along with the cousins. That gives me a few days to rest up.

This post linked to the GRAND Social