Saturday, August 24, 2019

Making Plain Brown Donuts and Donut Holes

My grandmother would often make jam tarts out of leftover pie dough. I loved her tarts just as much as her pies. They were usually strawberry jam tarts. When she took them out of the oven, the tarts were a golden brown and some of the sizzling jam would be oozing out of the folded dough. The aroma of those piping hot jam tarts drifting through her farmhouse added to the anticipation when biting into one-or two of the tarts. That aroma remains with me today as does the aroma of plain brown donuts and donut holes made and enjoyed when my children were quite young.

Using my grandmother's recipe for the plain donuts, I'd have the dough ready to go. The number of kids making donuts varied. Sometimes it was just my children. Other times it seemed like the entire neighborhood. Either way it was pretty well-organized. Each child had a job to do. There were those who rolled out the dough. There were those who cut out the donuts with the one and only donut-maker-cutter. It usually turned out that all of the kids cut out some donuts if they wanted to. It became quite busy-rolling out the dough, then cutting the donuts out and gathering up the middle of each cut-out donut to roll into a ball for a donut hole; then gathering up any leftover dough and starting the process all over again.

Once most of the dough had been used, the focus turned to the Fry Daddy sitting back on the counter, full of hot grease ready to turn the spongy dough into donuts and donut holes. It was a very safe and carefully executed process. I was always right there as the older children slowly lowered the dough into the grease using a large cooking spoon with openings for the grease to escape as the donuts were lifted up and placed on layers of paper towels. When they cooled down a bit, some of the donuts and donut holes were put into a brown bag full of confectioners sugar. Then whoever was the brown-bag-full-of-confectioners-sugar-shaker would go to work, shaking that bag, resulting in whatever was in that bag came out covered with the sugar. Not all the donuts and donut holes went in the bag. Many were spared the process. They were kept to be enjoyed as plain brown donuts and donut holes. And enjoyed they were.

Each child received a small bag of donuts and donut holes to take home with them. I dare say when they did get home, their bags were empty. Just the smell of those delicious donuts was enough to devour each and every one of them-just like the aroma of my grandmother's jam tarts piping hot from her oven with sizzling jam oozing out of the folded dough.



Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Sweater Dress Disaster

Years ago I loved wearing sweater dresses. My favorite sweater dress had long sleeves. It was a heavier knit with a simple neckline and three brown buttons on the left shoulder. The dress was an oatmeal color. It came above the knee, perfect for my over-the-knee chocolate brown boots that my older brother gave me one year for Christmas.

I can remember the first time I wore my oatmeal sweater dress. It was late August. I'd gone back to college a little early to see a guy I hadn't seen all summer. He had a blue Chevy Impala that he was anxious for me to see. I was anxious for him to see my oatmeal sweater dress
so it didn't take me long to get ready once the day arrived. I couldn't wait to wear the dress. With my long hair up in a ponytail and a fake braid wrapped around it and my over-the-knee boots on, I was ready to go. He was early. I guess he was anxious to show off his Chevy Impala which turned out to be brand new-quite appropriate for my new sweater dress.

It was good seeing him. He surprised me by taking me to a carnival. I'd been so intent on wearing that dress that I never bothered to check the weather. I found myself at a carnival in 90 degree weather in a heavy knit sweater dress with those long sleeves and my hair sporting a fake braid and those over-the-knee boots. I was so hot (not the kind of hot I'd hoped for) that I went on rides just to cool down. But the more rides I went on the more my fake braid slid out of place. The faster the ride, the more the braid slipped until I was on one ride and I had to grab it before it flew away. My most favorite dress ever ended up feeling like a thermal blanket and electric blanket combined. My heavy Cher-like eye make-up was melting down my cheeks. I looked like a raccoon dressed in an oatmeal shade heavy coat.

I could tell my friend was glad to get me back to the dorm. Saying good night was quick. I think I scared him away. Maybe it was the fake braid I was carrying or my face covered in black eye make-up or my sweater dress with long sleeves that looked like a winter coat while he was casually dressed in madras shorts appropriate in the humid weather. Whatever it was, that was the first and last ride I ever took in his new and blue shiny Chevy Impala. I hope I didn't leave behind any streaks of my eye make-up.

But I did get to wear my favorite sweater dress again and again when snow was falling and all the carnivals had packed up and moved on.