D is for Diet (kidding)

No, of course D is not for Diet. Diet is a 4-letter word. Can’t have that here! 🙂

D is for DOUGHNUT  or, if you prefer, DONUT. Both are acceptable spellings in America, though “doughnut” is more traditional and “donut” is more advertising-lingo.

Simpsons Lard Lad Donuts

Simpsons Lard Lad Donuts

D is also for the Dutch settlers who brought their oliekoek  [‘oil cake’] to America and where it became the basis of what we know know as a doughnut.

(Those Dutch settlers also brought cobbler, cookies, and apple pie to America.  They get my award for most useful and beloved colonial American immigrant import. I mean, what did the Puritans bring, aside from a gloomy piety? Just sayin’. )

It’s gone through many refinements since the first “nut” of dough Washington Irving described in 1809 as  “balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called doughnuts.”   In the mind-19th century, a teenager on a trading ship,  Hanson Gregory, added the hole to the dough, to ensure the center was fully cooked. That became the American doughnut as we know it today.

Of course, there are a lot more options available now.

Cake or yeast-raised? Old-fashioned or glazed?

donut plain old-fashioned [185x143]  donuts plain glaze [197x144]

                                                 Plain or fancy?

donuts cake [194x147]  donuts fancy [194x147]

Chocolate, plaid, striped, sprinkled, sugared, frosted, filled?

donuts chocolate [300x168]   donuts plaid [188x147]

donut jelly [265x190]donuts powder [187x152]

donuts striped [259x194]

Under all the embellishments, the American doughnut is, at its holey core, fried sugary dough. And Americans have no monopoly on that delectable confection. From churros to zeppoli, doughnuts in their infinite variation are truly a global concept.

Bombolini in Italy, filled with jam or chocolate. French beignets, hot fritters dusted with powdered sugar. The jam-filled Berliner is popular in Germany (except in Berlin, where it’s called pfannkuchen — which the rest of Germany knows as pancakes).

Latin America has many versions of bunuelos — Cubans use yuca and drizzle the fried dough balls with anise syrup; in Columbia the treat is saltier, made with cheese curds.

Tunisian yo-yo’s are covered in honey and decorated with sesame seeds.  Chinese sesame seed balls, jin deui or matuan, are filled with sweet black bean paste. In Nepal, the ring-shaped sel roti is made from rice flower with cardomom and mashed banana, then cooked in ghee; it’s a traditional part of the Hindu Tihar celebration.

Everyone around the world loves doughnuts, but the biggest fan must be Homer Simpson:

donut giant homer [220x230]    donuts homer price [160x232]Coincidentally, another fictional doughnut lover is also named Homer — one of my favorite books as a kid was Homer Price and the Doughnut Machine.

Nowadays I rarely indulge [see 4-letter word, above]  but when I do, I’m lucky to live not far from Bob’s Donuts on Polk Street, where they make my favorite:  cake-style, cinnamon sugar coated. Yum!

donuts bobs shop [170x185]donuts bobs [194x163] donut favorite [194x145]

What’s your favorite? Cake, plain, chocolate, cruller? Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’ Donuts?

National Doughnut Day is the first Friday in June. This  year, that’s June 7, 2013. Mark your calendars.

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B is for Beans

WARNING: Chaucerian vulgarism ahead! If you are easily offended, skip a couple of lines. (There’s some fudge in it for you!)

We all know the rhyme:

Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart! 

The more you eat them the more you fart!

Crude but true. Who can forget the famous bean scene in Blazing Saddles ?

beans      blazing saddle beans

As kids we loved franks ‘n’ beans – we called it Campfire Supper, even though we weren’t on a cattle drive, or even at camp (and were forbidden to re-enact the scene, which of course we kids thought was hilarious).  A can of  “baked” beans heated in a saucepan…stir in some chunks of hot dogs…add ketchup. Yum. Sometimes we had cornbread with that, for a real treat.

franks-n-beans [299x221]

Flash forward a few decades. Tastes evolved, and I learned that beans didn’t always come with franks. Beans are incredibly versatile AND they’re good for you! Low fat, high protein, high fiber.

Garbanzo beans, aka chickpeas aka ceci can be roasted, boiled, steamed, fried; added to soups and salads; mashed into dips, pureed into creamy sauces…even turned into tastes-good-and-good-for-you fudge!

Don’t believe me? Check out Joyce’s Awesome High-Fiber, High-Protein, Low-Calorie, Low-Fat, Sugar-Free, Scrumptious Vegan Fudge!

Or, for a savory snack, try roasted garbanzo beans.

 chickpeas

There are a lot of versions out there, but the basic recipe is:

  1. Drain a can of beans in a colander and rinse well.
  2. Pat dry with paper towels and spread on a cookie sheet.
  3. Sprinkle with a bit of kosher or sea salt and drizzle with a couple teaspoons of olive oil.
  4.  Pop in a 375-400 oven
  5. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, just until the beans are a deep golden brown and crunchy. (Make sure that the beans do not burn or get mushy)
  6.  Sprinkle with a little more salt and garlic, paprika, a pinch of cayenne pepper (if you like spicy), or your favorite spice blend (Cajun, etc.)

These are addictive, so if you’ve got company you’ll probably want to use 2 cans.