on donuts + a pumpkin spice donut recipe

I've been thinking about donuts a lot lately. 


About our neighborhood donut shop.



About how dangerous it is that these amazing donuts exist less than 10 blocks from our house.



About how impressed people are when you bake these pumpkin spice donuts.


Even though, honestly, they're just muffins.  In a... suggestive... pan. 


(Special thanks to Y for ensuring that I will never look at my donut pan the same way.)

I'll miss you... Humphrey.

The name Humphrey obviously evokes a dashing old-fashioned gentleman. And I suppose you could call the subject of this post, the Humphrey Yogart, the handsome grandfather of plain tart yogurt. 

Or, if you're not like me and don't feel the need to personify everything, you could just call it delicious, delicious yogurt. Your call.



The next time you go out for yogurt - and if your town is anything like mine, you've got at least six trendy self-serve shops to choose from -- and you order "original tart" or whatever they're calling it these days, I want you to remember something. 









Before Pinkberry, before Red Mango, before Orange Leaf, we were enjoying plain, tart yogurt here in Louisiana courtesy of Counter Culture. And while it may not have fancy toppings (mochi! pop tarts! orange balls that pop in your mouth!), sometimes nothing beats a classic Humphrey Yogart: plain yogurt, bananas, strawberries, red grapes, granola, and honey. 






Fun fact: these pictures were taken during a little blogger get-together. Sarah found my blog and since she passed my "99% sure she's not a serial killer" test, we decided to meet for lunch with two other blogger friends, Lauren and Lindsey. When I first started writing here, I honestly thought I could be the only person in my town to have heard of the blogging phenomenon.



A year and a half later, and I know three other people who blog. We're a fast growing community, guys. But at least we have Humphreys. And we'll always have Counter Culture. 





I'll miss you... archive:

movie moments
antique stores
nice people
lunch date

this proustian moment brought to you by world market

Y's family is relatively exotic. There are weekly phone calls to family members in other countries, in foreign languages. A charming aunt lives in a flat in Europe, just waiting for a visit from her American great-nephew. At holidays his parents bake traditional foods that, growing up, I didn't know existed. (like sufganyot at Chanukah. Why would America deprive its Jews of jelly donuts?)

I'm boring in comparison. My Russian grandmother did pass on her  delicious kugel recipe,  but let's face it: kugel is old news to any Jew who's ever been to a synagogue luncheon.

While shopping at World Market the other day I found my answer to his family's homemade jelly donuts and schnitzel. 



My eyes met that package of sprinkles and I swear I heard cheesy romantic music. In the middle of World Market, the rush of memories nearly knocked me over: the crunch of sprinkles on top of toast and the perfect combination of chocolate and butter. 

Because it turns out that I do have one exotic connection, a magical place where parents feed their children toast with chocolate sprinkles on top for breakfast. I don't remember much from the three years my family spent in Holland, but oh how I remember hagelslag. 

Or as I described it to Y when I got home, chocolate sprinkle toast. 

He approved. Is it possible not to approve? 

And in the game of exotic childhood treats that he didn't know we were playing until this post, I like to think I win.  Chocolate sprinkles for breakfast every morning > jelly donuts once a year. 





D & cupcakes: a history

In case you didn't notice the oversaturation yourself, or read it here first, let me just reiterate/confirm: the cupcake is no longer cool.


Know how I know this?

The trend has trickled down from Magnolia and Sprinkles, through regional large-ish cities, and made its way through the pipeline to little old Small-ish Town, Louisiana. We now have four little cupcake boutiques; this one is by far the cutest:




I have something cupcake related that I need to get off my chest (that's a sentence I never thought I'd say):

I do not like cupcakes any more than the average person.

Somehow, I became everyone I know's poster child for the cupcake. I receive gifts with pictures of a cupcake on them, or even just the word "cupcake". People tag me in photos of random cupcake stores. I get sent clipping after clipping of news stories about cupcakes. And while I love that people are thinking about me, I'm always curious if my friends and family just picture my head as a giant cupcake.

I mean, I like cupcakes, sure. But -- who doesn't like cupcakes?

I think I know what started this: In 2007, I was an intern at an ad agency with a lot of downtime. A lot of Perez Hilton was consumed, thus, so were a lot of pictures of celebrities eating the cool new thing: cupcakes. That spring, Y and I went to Portland, Oregon. My sister introduced us to a cute little place called Saint Cupcake.



I must have come home talking about the genius concept of cupcake boutiques. And since the trend hadn't trickled down to us mere Louisiana-folk yet(other than Carrie and Miranda eating cupcakes outside of Magnolia Bakery on HBO on Sundays), I must have sounded like a crazy person. I even made my best recreation of fancy cupcake boutique cupcakes. I think they turned out less "fancy cupcake boutique" and more "third grade bake sale".



In 2008, I was finally able to get my first taste of this "Sprinkles" place that all of the celebrities worthy of their own category on Perez Hilton were visiting. I even went so far as to use a picture of myself biting into a pumpkin cupcake as my profile picture. Mistake #1.


Because Y and I have such great memories of our first big vacation together, to Portland, we thought about ordering cupcakes from Saint Cupcake as our wedding cake. Yeah. That was expensive. But we still decided to use cupcakes instead of a cake. Mistake #2 (but not really. They were delicious).

I do still make cupcakes occasionally (and I have to say they look a lot less "third grade bake sale" than they used to).


But you know why? Well first of all, I like to bake, and they're easy. It isn't because I have some weird obsession with cupcakes. It's also because when you show up somewhere carrying a dozen cupcakes, it makes people happy. And who doesn't like making people happy? The same people who don't like cupcakes: Communists.

As a side note, I also make hummus and bring it places often. I'm glad no one has picked up on this and started sending me hummus-related merchandise, because I imagine it's not nearly as cute as the cupcake stuff.

@geauxsicles



I can't believe I forgot to tell you guys this. The other day I was just hanging out on the curb, eating a popsicle, minding my own business, when someone recognized Y and me as those people with the white dog who wears glasses on a blog.



By my calculations, the odds of that happening are slim to none.


Okay, fine, that may not be exactly how it happened. I may have driven by the gourmet popsicle store a month before it opened, noticed its unique idea and cool font, and gotten excited. Blame it on my advertising background, but I get excited when businesses put effort into their identity. Especially in this city, where you are likely to see a tattoo parlor with a comic sans logo.


Anyway, I
may have googled the gourmet popsicle place, Geauxsicles, as soon as I got home. And I may have added them on both facebook and twitter. And then I may have tweeted about them several times. And they may have tweeted me back. We basically knew each other.

So when I went in for my first taste of gourmet popsicle goodness, I probably should not have been shocked when the guy behind the counter (Hi Walter!) asked if Y and I had a white dog and assumed the alias Just Dandy. But I was shocked. I probably looked at the Geauxsicles staff as if they had just [insert the creepiest thing involving popsicles you can think of here]. Add that to the list of awkward moments I'll never get back.

But you know what? I got a popsicle out of it. And not only was it delicious, but someone put effort into every little thing that goes in to making a popsicle and selling it. And I don't know about everyone else, but I appreciate that.


{photo from the geauxsicles facebook page}


My first pop:
And next time I'll be trying...




A poll




The other night, five of us went out for dessert to one of the fanciest (and darkest, judging by my terrible picture) restaurants in town. Our waiter tempted us with key lime and creme brulee flavored martinis, and my friend who doesn't drink ordered a coffee. The waiter would not take coffee for an answer.


"You want some kahlua with that coffee, right?" he said


"No."


"Some rum?"


"No."


"Some Bailey's?"


"She's pregnant!" one of my friends blurted out, trying to get him to shut up. As we all giggled nervously, the waiter asked what she was having. Apparently, Fake Baby D is a girl.


Our giggling kind of wore off as our waiter, who was practically misty eyed, reminisced about how holding his now nine year old as a newborn. The lie wasn't funny anymore. (Until my friend got extra ice cream since she was "eating for two").

So, my question is, it is just in my part of the world that, even in your mid-20s, you have to make up an entire human being to get out of being peer pressured?

In hindsight, I'm not sure why we didn't just tell him she was driving. Oh well.

chametz

Another year, another Passover ends. I've never actually liked giving up bread for Passover, but it becomes especially difficult when my husband has decided that his many hobbies --dissecting brains, memorizing the periodic table, building bikes, herding sheep...

...aren't enough, and he needs to add baking delicious, delicious bread products to his repertoire.

Jealous?

when boredom strikes, bake.

I had a problem yesterday -- there was nothing to do. I get twitchy when there's nothing to do; I need some sort of project.

So like any normal person with an entire day to herself and a hint of southern Louisiana homesickness, I decided to make a king cake.

I was promised by the commenters on allrecipes.com (who all swear they are THE most qualified to determine king cake authenticity based on number of years living in New Orleans) that this recipe was the real deal, and I pretty much agree. It definitely tasted more like a king cake than North Louisiana's version (which, while delicious, is NOT a king cake. I know. I lived within 70 miles of New Orleans for over 10 years).


On the off chance you're like me and find yourself thinking, "Why sit in front of the tv all day when I can spend hours making something I can easily find at any local bakery?", then this 20 year old Southern Living recipe is most definitely for you, provided you live in Louisiana and it's ~40 days before Easter.

I'll leave you with this vintage Mardi Gras picture, because I love embarrassing people... especially myself (I'm on the left). I distinctly remember showing our hairdresser a picture of Jessica Simpson and believing she could make me look just like her with a bunch of hairspray and a $1 gold headband. I think it worked!




...That was sarcasm. I need some really ugly high waisted jeans to make that happen.

Happy Mardi Gras!

wifely duties

If you were at our wedding, you might remember our ketubah (marriage contract):


Do you see that bolded line near the top? It says, in English,
learn how to make chicken soup.

Okay, fine, it says my name in Hebrew. But it might as well say that somewhere, in some kind of guide to being a Jewish wife.

I just got a cookbook from the fabulous Mother's, a restaurant in Portland where we ate the best matzah ball soup and challah french toast for lunch. Their recipe for chicken soup seemed like a legit place to start.

But wait.

Did you know you have to hold a raw chicken to make chicken soup? A whole chicken? GROSS. The only experience I have ever had with one of those suckers was to know that you should grab as many as you can when you are a contestant on Supermarket Sweep.

Anyway, despite my disgust for meat in the same shape it was when it breathed, I forged on. And it was not pretty - the chicken, or my face.

Worth it? Yes. Mother's chef Lisa Schroder's chicken soup recipe here.