Friday, November 4, 2011

“Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven” Pillsbury Doughboy

When I was a kid, on “Saturday Night at the Fights,” two boxers feinted at each other while a referee held them apart. After letting suspense build like steam in a pressure cooker, he yelled, “Gentlemen, shake hands and staaaart fighting!” They shook hands, then attacked each other.
My brother gave me similar workouts (without the handshake) so I never watched past this point. 
The fighters provided an enduring family saying.  After the last dish was set on and the blessing was said, someone was sure to shout:  “Shake hands and staaaart eating!”
As we approach that food frenzy called  “the holidays,” here are phrases that make us salivate just hearing them:
“Soup’s on!”
“Let’s eat!”
“Name your poison!”  We used this bartender’s phrase in sentences such as, “Name your poison—pancakes or waffles!”  It offers a nice, self-deprecatory tone for the modest cook.  (With my cooking, though, ‘poison’ comes too close to the truth!)
We were crazy about the Pogo Possum comic strip. Walt Kelly had Ma Groun’ Squirrel say: “The way to a man’s heart is through the soft underbelly!”  We seven girls said it when we made cinnamon rolls or cookies for boyfriends.
However, I rebelled when Mama said, “We’ve got to feed the men.”(Usually prefaced by, “Put that book down and peel these potatoes!”)  I didn’t want to cook for my Dad and brothers, who were capable of both feeding themselves and cooking the food to do it. 
She let me vent, but made me cook, reminding me that Dad and the boys worked hard to provide the food on our table.  Life has proven that as chauvinistic as her saying was, it’s true that every five to six hours, men, women and children eat.  And at my house, it’s usually up to me to make sure they—and I— have something to eat.
Dad cooked. Grandma taught him so he and his brothers could live at the “batch house” on a remote part of their farm.  He made delicious stews, roasts, ham and beans and our favorite, large quantities of cake doughnuts for the holidays.
My brother cut this recipe from a metal Raleigh’s nutmeg can and bent the edges, impressing them into a hand-carved wood plaque, which he gave to Dad for Father’s Day. It hung in our kitchen for 40 years.  I’ve added extra spices— Mama’s secret for doughnuts and pumpkin pie filling so good I wanted to drink it out of the blender!

Wayne’s Doughnuts
Flour, sifted - 4 cups
Baking powder - 4 1/2 tsp. 
Cinnamon – 2 Tblsp.
Nutmeg – 2-4 tsp. to taste
Mace  - 1 1/2 tsp. to taste
Salt - 1 tsp.
Shortening- 3 Tblsp.
Sugar - 1 cup
Eggs, well beaten - 2
Milk - 1 cup

Sift together 3 1/2 cups flour with baking powder, spices and salt. Work shortening with spoon until creamy; add sugar gradually while beating with spoon until light. Add eggs and beat well with spoon.  Add sifted flour mixture alternately with milk, blending well after each addition. Add enough of remaining flour to make a soft dough easily handled. Roll or pat on floured board to 1/2 inch thickness and cut with floured doughnut cutter.  (Kids can do this—we cut a circle with a large tumbler and used an Alka Seltzer bottle to cut out the holes.  Rather then re-roll the dough, which would make tough doughnuts, Dad fried the scraps and called them “critters” – they look amazingly like antlered beasts!) Fry in any hot fat—but lard produces doughnuts like Dad’s!  Drain, then shake well in a paper bag with ½ cup sugar and 2 Tblsp. cinnamon. (Another kid job!)
As Julia Child’s family says,  “Bon appétit!” 

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