Saturday, November 7, 2009

- Prodigal: A riff on Texas

They say there are no seasons in Texas, but my senses tell me otherwise. In the weeks since I last wrote, smudges of gold have appeared in the trees along the creeks and King Ranch bluestem has bronzed the roadsides.  Though there are no sugar maples to paint the hills red, autumn has surely arrived.

Our days have been full, and like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights, my mind has been frozen with indecision. Should I write about the River Walk in San Antonio, the biker rally we stumbled onto in Galveston, the Wings over Houston air show we went to that same weekend, or the pottery festival in Gruene? How could we have been so thoughtless as to eat the chicken pot pie and the latest pasta concoction before taking pictures for the blog? When will I ever find time to make paper, create new recipes, and write now that I’m working full-time?

Oh yes. I have rejoined the world of the gainfully employed, leaving at 7:00 each morning for the Alkek Library at Texas State University in San Marcos. The drive is a marvel, the ground cloaked in swaths of early morning fog as the sun gilds the edges of the hills. My mind is filled each day with the esoteric details of government documents, then I return home just as the sun slips back behind the hills, the GPS flickering into night mode.

Weekend time has regained its urgency, with never enough of it to spend on all the wish lists and projects. But today, as I threaded through the crowded aisles at the Brookshire Brothers grocery store, I spotted apple cider and knew that time had to be found for an unscheduled project. So I made an extra stop at Ace Hardware and bought a new deep fryer. Tomorrow, I’ll be sure to take a picture.

Doughnuts (2 dozen)
3 Tbs. softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 cups flour (sifted)
1 tsp. nutmeg
4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup milk

Makes very soft dough which can be hard to handle, but the end result is worth it. Roll dough ½” thick, cut into rings and holes (I've used a small drinking glass and a little bud vase since losing my doughnut cutter some years back).  Heat deep fryer to 350 degrees. Flip doughnuts when the tops crackle and remove when both sides are dark brown. Drain on brown paper bags and cool briefly. Coat the doughnuts with cinnamon sugar (3/4 cup sugar, 1 Tbs. cinnamon) by shaking them in doubled brown paper lunch bags. Serve with cold apple cider.

P.S. As an afterthought, I tried putting some ganache on the last batch of doughnuts this morning ... nuked a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream for 30 seconds, stirred in 1/4 cup of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao chips and dunked the doughnuts.  Suffice it to say that this most assuredly will not be an afterthought next time.