Saturday, June 4, 2011

Weekend Cooking: Doughnuts

Disclaimer: This is not a real doughnut! It's a devil's food cake with chocolate butter cream frosting made in a doughnut cake pan that Santa brought me.
Maybe he's getting tired of cookies?

Let's talk doughnuts.

What is it that draws me to them? I love food and nutrition, fitness and exercise. So why doughnuts?

When I think of round circular treats, I think of Sunday mornings after church with my family. They served refreshments in the church hall following 9 o'clock mass, so as soon as we finished the final prayer, my sisters and I would book it down the aisle right after the priest to get first dibs. Cinnamon-sugar, glazed, chocolate headlights. The good ones always went first.

But on those mornings when our parents couldn't tear my sisters and me away from our Barbies, we went to 11 o'clock mass. No guitar group, no doughnuts, and crowded pews with sleepy high school students . . . we were always just outside of our element.

Or is it fond memories of time spent with my dad that makes me gravitate towards doughnuts? I think of long road trips through towns that time had forgotten to visit my great-great aunt in Vermont. Young Margaret would get restless and Dad would get sleepy. Nothing that a special sweet, sticky treat and a steaming cup of coffee couldn't fix. Or maybe it's the picture in my mind of my dad regularly bringing in boxes of doughnuts from a local bakery to his (most-of-the-time) grateful staff. He's a thoughtful guy, and I'd like to think I have a lot in common with him. Sometimes, it's easier to show people you care with an impressive three-layer cake, or a plate piled high with warm, soft cookies, or a box of fresh doughnuts.

It could be because doughnuts have always been seen as "the bad guy." And maybe I feel like I doing something a bit daring when I bite down on these circular desserts of apparent doom. Maybe it's the thrill of eating something we're always told to stay away from, to avoid like that kid in the sandbox who sneezes into his hands and doesn't give them a good scrub-down afterwards. Doughnuts are the most obvious of junk food, the option that wins the prize for the most I'm-trying-to-avoid-you effort during the morning coffee breaks.

But Margaret! Sugar! Fried! Calories! Trans fat! What are you doing? Relax guys, I got this.

Although doughnuts are meant to be a breakfast food, I classify them as a dessert, a splurge, or a treat. I try to eat a clean diet full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean (vegetarian) proteins, and healthy fats. I exercise five or six days a week and attend yoga classes whenever possible. Now what I'm about to tell you may or may not be flawed logic. But what good is leading a healthy lifestyle if one can't, well, be naughty every now and then? Take care of yourself, but don't deny yourself. If it's your great uncle's birthday party--have a small slice of cake. If your significant other gives you a box of fine chocolates--have a couple, but share with him or her! If you just finished a day of shopping that was brutal to your feet and your credit card, and you have a gal-pal who is eyeing the doughnuts and you're thinking you could deal with treat--go for it. Have the doughnut. When treats are just that--treats--I believe they're okay. Every now and then. Occasionally. When it's a full moon. Whatever--live a little, enjoy yourself, be bad. Have the doughnut!

National Doughnut Day, created in 1938, is celebrated annually on the first Friday in June.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone with a food-related post to share: Book reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button, head over to Beth Fish Reads, and link up anytime over the weekend.


Kaye said...

As soon as I read your first few sentences I was hurtled back in time to Sunday mornings at our house when I was a kid (many many moons ago) and my mother always went to 7:00 AM mass. She would bring home the Sunday paper and the doughnuts! Yum and fun. Thanks for the memory.

Beth F said...

I am so with you!! My parents didn't buy a lot of doughnuts but we loved them when we got them nonetheless. And I eat well, exercise -- but I think life's not worth living if you can't indulge every once in a while. So many wonderful memories are linked with food, and why deprive yourself?

Our Sunday routine growing up: Dad would go out to the deli and bring back bagels and rye bread, corned beef and lox, smoked fish and other deli treats while my mom got the gigantic pan of scrambled eggs going. Sunday brunch was the best.

Carol @ There's Always Thyme to Cook said...

Nice memories!
My dad always brought home fresh doughnuts on Sundays, we had a similar brunch to Beth F. Those were nice days. Now everyone is in a hurry to get to soccer or something. I love doughnuts, yours looks so good. I bought a doughnut pan to bake some. I need to get to that soon!

Margot said...

Margaret, I love this beautifully written post. I also love the message of your post and couldn't agree more. Eating healthy is the smart way to go but we also need to enjoy the food we eat. As you and others have pointed out, food makes for wonderful memories as well.

Rikki said...

Great post, even though I don't share those doughnut memories. I wasn't even aware they are supposed to be breakfast food!
Maybe because there were no doughnuts when I was a kid I have never been too keen on them.

Heather said...

I like going to Tim Hortons (major donut chain in Canada and some area of the US) on december 24, just before closing at 3pm and you often get a free box of donuts with your coffee, if they have any left. My fav is the glazed sour cream. a very rare treat

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I had heard it was Donut Day recently - great post!

Staci said...

What a great post and a cool way to honor the donut. Now for me it would be more like a food group but my metabolism just isn't what it used to be. Still I agree with you that treating yourself every now and again doesn't hurt a thing.

Darlene said...

Such a lovely post! We have the massively popular Tim Horton's chain here and believe me, we do our bit to keep them going.

When my in-laws arrived in Canada, it wasn't long before they discovered Tim Horton's. Quite shy about his broken English, my father-in-law would point at the plain glazed ones and take a box home when company was coming. This went on for years. When my husband went along with his father for the first time he couldn't believe there were so many kinds to choose from! I bet there was still 11 plain glazed in a box with one full of sprinkles for my husband.

Nan said...

My mother used to stop by our local bakery every Friday and bring home one of those wonderful boxes with donuts, eclairs, crullers. I have yet to taste any donuts as good - even in Paris. The couple were from Germany and boy, could they ever make good pastries. I'd give a lot to be able to eat them again.

Eating used to be more fun and less problematical.