Monday, July 25, 2011

Any Time is Donut Time

The Monday Nut

Donuts are one of those special food items that can, like most traditional breakfast foods, be eaten at any time of the day. I can't really think of or imagine a time when I wouldn't eat one; and I don't want to.

Which brings us to this weeks musing suggested by our loyal donut hunter Bob Caselden. This weekend marked our yearly mountain bike trip to New Hampshire's White Mountains, to which I brought donuts of course. After settling in, taking a swim in the river and sharing a few laughs over libations late into the evening, I produced a little white card board box with donuts fresh from Lyndells. Now, imagine yourself in a classic Old Milwaukee commercial, and replace the king crabbing (or other hunting/fishing activity) with donuts and you pretty much have the scene. A bunch of guys, a camp fire, mountain bikes, a bunch of unnecessary outdoor gear, helicopters, beer, and donuts; "Donuts at night, does it get any better than this?" No Bob, it doesn't.

So, no matter what you're plans and where you're going always bring donuts. You're friends will thank you; and you could end up on The Donut Directory.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dip and Sip and repeat...

The Monday Nut

What's better than 1 home made jelly donut, well 2 home made jelly donuts. And on my visit to Dip and Sip this Saturday that's exactly what I got. The man behind the counter, Amby (I think) was so friendly he gave this donut hunter extra coffee and a free donut to boot- how can you beat that!

Dip and Sip, around for over 20 years, is one of those old time institutions where the sign has a slight edge of rust, the couple that runs the shop is quintessential, and the donuts are just the right size with just the right flavor. As I got there at 3pm, I would like to come back earlier to have them fresh out of the oven, but given what they were like that late in the day, I will definitely be back.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Donut Shop Hours

The Tuesday Nut

If there's one thing a donut hunter begins to learn very quickly it's that the hours posted by many independent donuts shops, those hidden little gems which we all seek out, can have very little to do with what times they are actually open; especially when they are just plain closed.

Case in point, this past weekend, Brother's Donuts, Franklin NH. Don't try to go on Sunday, they are closed. Not that this is in anyway their fault, but let's just say the over excited exuberance the average donut hunter may have when running on empty can cause them to wake up at 5:30am on a Sunday and wildly drive out into the country side without even a second thought as to whether or not their destination would be open; this is why phones were invented, you already know that; now I do too.

The flexibility of hours which can occur at many of the best shops has little to do with the shop owners having a willy-nilly work ethic, but rather speaks to just how good their products are and how high the demand for them is. When the donuts are gone for the day, the hours end. Case in point is Ziggy's, Salem MA. Ziggy's is a small, family run shop that is so tiny and obscure you can almost miss it if you've never been there. Driving by Ziggy's and getting lost for just 15 minutes can be the difference between getting one of the best donuts in town or going home empty handed; call ahead they will put yours aside if there are any left. In fact, calling ahead is a great practice to have with any small independent shop. I have found that most shop owners will happily give any donut hunter directions and put a few aside with your name on them waiting for your arrival.

Now, what do you do if, like me, you don't call ahead and show up to find that the shop not only has no donuts but is closed? You can take 1 of 2 routes: 1) find the nearest large chain and succumb to filling your belly with the empty calories of a hollow, unfulfilled mass-produced doughNOT, which is about as good as hiding in a corner crying for an hour, or 2) hope that your shop does some wholesale business with local gas stations and coffee shops in the area and search out the "Day Old's"; Brothers does just that. It didn't take me long to find a station down the street and hunt up a few jelly's, an apple, Boston cream and the like. The best thing about Day Old's is that a few minutes in the microwave is like a donut time-machine -crisis averted.

Let my lessons point the way to donut bliss, call ahead, check hours and reserve a few before you make the trek; you'll be glad you did.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Doughnuts - can they do magic?

The Friday Nut

Reprinted with permisson from Anna Huddleston:

A guy walks into a doughnut shop. The blizzard has nailed the heck out of him, and the basement of this 19-century mansion it smells of hot muddy coffee and burnt oil. This is St. Petersburg, Russia, in October.  He walks past the tables with fake granite tops towards a square woman dressed in a once white lab coat that has since transformed into a disintegrating washrag, and orders a dozen doughnuts.

“There are many of you and just one me,” she yells back from her prehistoric frying apparatus. He waits. A few minutes later she tosses what looks like a stack of pimply onion rings onto a paper plate, which immediately starts developing serious grease stains, and gives them a healthy dash of powdered sugar.

Risking blisters on his fingers, he picks up a doughnut and then he sees Her, through the doughnut hole. She is standing across the cavernous room, putting her lipstick on, her plate already empty. A red striped cat rubs his back against her leather boots and fans out his toes, still hoping. This is the guy’s chance.

“Did you know that Rasputin used to come here?” he says to the girl while carefully pulling apart a doughnut and tossing a half to the cat.

“I thought he poisoned people and slashed their throats,” she says.

“He was also known for pouring vodka on raw cuts,” the guy says. “One of the earliest antiseptics.”

“Are you a doctor?” she asks. A few flakes of powdered sugar have settled around her nose and he considers telling her, especially because it looks so much like controlled substances. These doughnuts should be a controlled substance, he thinks. He is already feeling it. 

“I have a friend who has a piranha tank at work,” he says. “He is a surgeon.”

She takes a step back and the cat squeals. Even though it seems to be an employee of this place, good thing he can’t sue anyone for workers comp.

“That’s horrible,” she says. “And so wrong.”

In the meantime, the doughnuts are creating a mellowing effect in the guy’s stomach. They are everything food cooked well should be – nutritious, beautiful and exactly what he expected. He lets the feeling take him over, hijacking the neurons that transport pleasure.

She dabs her mouth with a gray paper they use for napkins here, getting ready to leave. Outside the wind is picking up, and the guy wonders if he’s ever going to find his way with women. He watches her walk up the wide granite stairs and disappear behind a massive wooden door. And then his eyes fall onto the piece of paper crammed into a ball on her empty plate. Good thing he didn’t toss it. Licking the sugar and the grease off his fingers, he unwraps it to find… a phone number.

As the Russian revolutionaries said, power corrupts people, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Same thing with the food cooked well. It connects people. Absolutely.

Too see more from Anna Huddleston please visit her blog

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Captain America Donuts!

The Thursday Nut

I hope the 4th of July was full of fireworks, family, friends and of course donuts! Having just returned from my 4th of July respite, I'm happy to report that my holiday was filled with all of the above; I have a singed thumb to prove it.

As I have relayed before I'm normally not one to partake in "chain donut" fare, nor is the intention of this site to promote the large national chain products but, as I do often on the road and will grab a coffee from Dunkin, and they are the only large national chain I can identify which still has some individual outlets, 36 out of the 2100 locations in New England, that make fresh donuts on location (one being in Weymouth, MA), I'm happy to occasionally make note when they come out with something interesting; a la Captain America .

Dunkin Donuts recently announced the brand’s first-ever movie partnership, its multi-product line of Captain America consumables. In support of the Marvel Studios film Captain America: The First Avenger, the brand has followed a patriotic theme in the creation of these three new products. The Captain America Coolatta, is a cherry-flavored frozen beverage that comes in a special limited-edition collectible First Avenger Tri-Cup, an interesting three-chamber cup that allows you to fill up on three different Coolatta flavors within the same cup. Also part of the lineup is a Captain America Donut, the brand’s first-ever star-shaped donut, and a Stars & Stripes Donut, both topped with patriotic red, white and blue sprinkles.

Of course I was intrigued by the shape alone, add to that the fact that it's a Jelly donut and I had to try one. In all honesty it tastes much like a standard D&D jelly donut. The dough is not as lite and soft as a mom and pop variety, the jelly is consistent, but what does make this product stand out a bit is the frosting; ridding the fence between a thick glaze and true frosting all the while helping to keep the donut moist, though not soggy. In the spirit of America, donuts and smiles, don't hesitate to grab yourself one if you can get them, shelves emptied quickly. Or, if you're like our follower Sara, who is trying to train for a fitness competition and is considering it a test of will to not consume the Captain America donut I just gave her; consider it a worth adversary. :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

The Friday Nut

What would the 4th of July be with our the good ole Red, White and Blue, the colors that signify all that make this country great! Therefore, in keeping with the spirit of our national symbol and the focus of the Donut Directory, I'm giving you a recipe to combine both.

Courtesy of Activity Village The 4th of July Doughnut recipe:

Makes 20 small donuts or 6 large

You will need:

450g (1lb) self raising flour
50g (2oz) caster sugar
Pinch of salt
175 g (6oz) margarine
2 eggs

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Rub in the margarine
Beat and add the eggs.
Mix together. Add the milk a bit at a time until your mixture forms a dough.
Shape into donuts.
Place a pan of oil* on a medium heat and allow to warm through. Drop in your donuts two at a time (or 4 small ones) and fry for about 3 minutes for the small, 5 minutes for large (until they are risen and golden brown), then place on kitchen paper to drain.

* The cooking should always be done by an adult. Children should never be left unsupervised in the kitchen, especially around hot oil.
You don't need to stick to traditional donut shapes! Try some 4th of July donuts by shaping the dough with cookie cutters and glazing with an icing sugar (confectioners' sugar) and water mixture, colored with food coloring and topped quickly with some appropriate sprinkles!