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Friday, January 6, 2017

More Fun in the New Year

Typically, from December 26th until January 2nd, the blog-o-sphere is overwhelmed with a plethora of reminiscent, contemplative, memorializing, reflective posts that usually wrap up with an amazing resolution for the New Year.  This will not be one of those posts.  Why?

Because it's January 5th.  I missed the window. I got busy, and just plain let it slide.  We are now fully into 2017, no two ways about it.  So we're just going to continue on as usual on the Dunrovin' Station Blog.

Lots of little odds and ends added up to eat away at the shortened, frigid winter days. 

The final coats of polycoat, all six of them, went onto the new barn sign. That is now in the work shop awaiting the barn raising. ( If you zoom in, you can see that the acorn is indeed an acorn, and not an inverted Bell :)  The detail is lost in the long shot photo.

I also managed a LOT of baking, A LOT.  You can't indulge in all the insane goodness of the holiday season if it doesn't come from somewhere!  The PLAN was to bake a batch of something fantastic and then put half of it in the freezer for later.  That worked really well for the breads, the cake, the cookies, and the pound cake, but was a complete failure for the seven layer bars.  You see, seven layer bars (also known as Hello Dolly Bars, Magic Cookie Bars, Magic Bars, and Hello Dolly Bars) are my kryptonite. It simply isn't Christmas without it, and I cannot stay out of them.  It's not even possible, even if they are frozen solid.

When I was a kid we had a large black tin container that was made by Guildcraft.   I think it originally had either a giant fruitcake in it or an assortment of cookies.  This thing was black and a heavy duty metal and covered is a folk art tulip print.  Every Christmas, we would make an abundance of a variety of cookies and line the tin with wax paper, fill it with sugary goodness, and nibble and sneak from it for weeks until there was nothing left but a wayward bit of nut and crumbs. 

When I got married, the tin moved with me.  Even in the tropical depths of July, I could open that empty tin and smell home, Christmas, and those seven layer bars.  The tin was destroyed by movers 6 years ago, and I miss it so.  Silly thing, I know, but it's just one of those things.  I thought I found one at an antique store this past week, but it was only about 8 inches across instead of about 14. Sigh.

I digress.

The seven layer bars were made, and over the next few days, disappeared.  Every time you passed them on the kitchen counter, you just had to cut a tiny corner off an edge.  I even hid them in the oven to put them out of sight.  The pan still was loosing bits and pieces.  I was beginning to suspect mice.  I was ready to BLAME mice.  Nope, it was me, and the boy.  Poor DH was at work most of the time, and therefor was unable to stick his hand in and fight for his fair share.  Luckily for our hips, it is still about 350 days until the next batch!

The house, closed tightly against the howling winds and arctic chill smelled wonderful with batches of NewYork Style bagels.  Malt water boiled on the range, the smell of rising dough and baking bagels filled the air from the rafters to the basement.

Batch after batch of egg laden challah dough filled my dough rising pails on the counter.  The last of the goodies to use the Station eggs, before the girls decided that it was just too cold to lay.  The rich deeply yellow, braided loaves, bejeweled in seeds glistened on the cooling racks on the porch.  I swear I heard the UPS man groan with envy when he rang the bell, standing in a heady fog of freshly baked bread.

Round Challah makes a great neighbor gift for their holiday table.  I also
sent some to Pat at Liberty House as she was hosting a Christmas
party for the tourism board.

As long as we are discussing round things.  We have yet another doughnut shop in town. ANOTHER DONUT SHOP! Understand that growing up, doughnuts were everywhere in Ohio.  There were a regular fixture of the house too. (Having a dad that was both a fireman and police officer contributed to that.) I always figured they were popular everywhere.

When we moved down south, there was one mom and pop place along the freeway that sold amazing old fashioned doughnuts and the ever present KrispyKreme.  Besides that, it was a tiny section in the grocery bakery cabinet.  I guess fried chunks of sweet dough aren't high on the minds of sweaty bikini clad bodies.  I don't wear bikinis. I was slowly weaned from doughnuts in those three years.

When we moved a little further north, I was sure that I would again find doughnuts. Nope. Apparently coffee is huge in Alabama, but not the glazed delightful disks that typically accompany them.  Grocery doughnuts just don't cut it.  Who needs them anyway, right?

Fast forward to another move. This time further north, where the wind howls and the snow flies in the winter.  A place inhabited with the descendants of Germans, Russian, Czech, and Nordic pioneer stock that WALKED to get here.  Certainly they brought with them the fried dough cravings of their ancestors and grandmother's kitchens.  Certainly I would find donut shops here! Right?! Wouldn't you think? 

Nope. I don't know if they USED to be here back in the day, and they were killed off by Adkins or the economy, or big grocery, or if they just never were.

Two.  I found two shops when we moved here 3.5 years ago.  (I am not counting grocery store bakery cases.) One was a mom and pop shop that serves amazing donuts at a normal price, if you can overlook the interior which is in need of a good scrubbing, and a staff that would rather be ANYWHERE else but standing there serving people.  The second was a high end boutique doughnut shop in a fancy, new, high rent part of town.  The doughnuts were good.  They thrived on odd combinations and uniqueness, but they just couldn't keep up the quality.  We went 3 times.  The single price of a doughnut was about $1.75.  Fine for a fun quick snack, fine for out of town guest destination, but not as a habit.  Once they became popular, the quality went downhill. Then they opened a satellite shop in town to cater to the working city, and the quality collapsed.

Then a DunkinDonuts opened.  (LOVE Dunkin) And a KrispyKreme (too sweet, too soft)  And another Dunkin. (in the parking lot of my dentist's office, how convenient!) And the latest addition to our search for fried dough, Hurts Doughnuts.  (Hurts, Don't it?)  They have the odd flavours and more of the other boutique shop, are in a better location (even if you have to manage downtown traffic and a maze of one way (and two way -sorry Doc) roads that all go the wrong way, and their prices are that of the grocery store.  Bonus, they are open 24/7/365.  But are they a good doughnut?

They are an OK doughnut.  It depends on what you like in your doughnut.  I still prefer a doughnut that can stand on its own.  Hurts as a plain doughnut are great, moist without being wet, fresh without being soggy.  But a plain doughnut isn't what they are known for.  They are known for their crazy number of dipped doughnuts.  They take a normal delicious doughnut and dip it in icing and then odd toppings, putting them (IMHO) too far over the top. Nothing seems to be off limits, marshmallows, cereal, bacon, crushed candy bars, gummy bears, etc.  To make it more off the sugar charts they make things FROM their doughnuts, like milkshakes. Ugh.

Did it stop me from getting a dozen? No.  Will we go back? Probably a couple of times, definitely when company is in town.  Is it our new go to?  Nope. 

Being far out in the country curtails the ability to lay hands on the craving solution, which is a good thing.  SO for now, we'll stick to it being a treat when we visit the dentist.  Fitting, eh?

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