Three Kid Circus : A family memory for the ages

Thursday, July 22, 2004

A family memory for the ages

I've been working very diligently to reform my lazy eating habits, and to regain a daily exercise habit after this most recent bout of illness.  It's been going well.  I'm back to 99% of normal, and have completed my workouts and eaten my veggies and drank my water and even remembered my vitamin. 

I'm a night person, and I have tremendous difficulty getting to sleep before midnight.  In the last months of my pregnancy with my youngest, I was so swollen and exhausted by the end of the day that my sole activity for the evening consisted of watching the entire lineup of FoodTV programming.  My kids fell asleep nightly to the dulcet tones of Emeril shouting about pork fat and bamming.  I learned more about people who collect weird food memorabilia and the manufacturers of all manner of packaged foods than any one person should ever know.

Since the birth of my daughter, I rarely watch.  I don't know.  Three kids who don't eat much (they aren't picky, they just seem to exist on two bites of whatever) and a husband who considers boxed mac and cheese with hot dogs cut up in it gourmet eating made me question whether I needed to watch anymore.

Last night, I lay in my bed trying to drift off.  I turned on the Food Network, and watched Alton Brown make homemade donuts.  It was like someone flipped a switch in my brain.  I would impress my children with homemade donuts.  I envisioned them kissing me with sticky lips, and basking in the glory of super-cool mommyness.  I would wake at 5 and start the dough, and allow them to help me cut out the rounds.  We would gather around the table and ice them together.  It would be a family memory for the ages.

I leaped from the bed to the computer and downloaded the recipe.  My husband grunted something about it being 11 pm and why the *%$&)(*!  am I printing something.  No, no.  I will not endure a party pooper.  I am on my way to June Cleaver perfection.  I make a mental note to wear my pearls, as I drift off to dreamland.

Morning arrives, and as I make my way to the kitchen, I notice that it is 6:30, and I've somehow missed my tee time at the Kitchen-Aid.  Never mind.  I fix the recipe to the side of the fridge with a flourish, pour myself a cup of coffee, and begin to gather ingredients.

Part of what I love about cooking shows is the fact that all of the ingredients are usually pre-measured, in darling little glass ramekins, and the chef just merrily tosses them together.  The other thing I love is the dirty dishes that get tucked under the counter.  It has long been my contention that I have all the makings of a master chef, but I need a busboy, dish washer and a couple of sous-chefs to prepare my ingredients and mop my brow.

I get a good handful of flour on the floor, but manage to get everything in the mixer and turn it on.  Yes!  We're back on track.  Take THAT Krispy Kreme!

I transfer the dough to an oiled bowl to rise, and tuck it in the oven with the light on.  I then proceed to the living room, and break up a fight over who had the anteater first.  Then I get a round of sippy cups, and announce my delightful plans to the children.  The baby wanders off to remove every VHS tape from the drawers of our entertainment center.  The other two are excited and ready. 

"Let's cut them out now, Mommy!  Can I do the rolling pin, Mommy?  Why can't we do it NOW, Mommy?  Can I taste the dough, Mommy?"  Oh, man.  Sous-chefs aren't supposed to give orders or make silly requests.  I shake my head a bit to clear it, and then take the kids to the kitchen to show them how the dough is not doubled yet.  They are sure it would be just fine.   Quick, diversionary tactics!  Let's get our rolling surface ready and sprinkled with flour. 

What was I thinking?  5 seconds later, EVERY surface in the kitchen has a fine layer of white powder, including me and the kids, who are beaming with delight.  I clearly am winning points, but it's taking every ounce of strength for me to not order them out of the kitchen in a rage of indignation.

I get a rag and clean off hands and faces, and mercifully, I have used quick yeast.  Lo and behold, it has risen.

After punching down and rolling out the dough, I find myself micro-managing the cutting of the circles.  "No!  Close together!  No!  Like this!  I'll show you again..."  Aaaaaah!  I didn't picture this degree of frustration last night.  But the donuts, and the adoration of my kids will be worth it.

While the donuts are rising for a second time, I get the oil ready and station the children on chairs across the kitchen island where they can see but are in no danger from splattering oil.  Sensing the lack of danger, they abandon me to fry up the donuts, while they engage in a game that involves lots of yelling and pretend falling.

I field a phone call, and manage to cook the first three donuts with no mishaps.  Yes!  I knew I could do this!  The next three cook in like 15 seconds, so I adjust the heat down a bit.  My 18 month old wanders into the line of fire, so I scoop her up and rush her back to the safety of the living room.  Shoot!  The next three are really really crisp. 

The phone rings, and I drop my donut turning fork.  I have been using the handle to lift them out, so naturally when I reach down to pick up the fork, I burn my hand.  I stick my throbbing hand into the sink and turn on the cold water.  I am now adding dough and retrieving cooked donuts with a slotted spoon, all with my non-dominant hand.  In another moment of brilliance, I airmail a donut hole into the pot, and am rewarded with a searing pain on my OTHER hand.  Great. 

Two hands in the sink, 4 donuts in the pot, a toddler on the final approach and my mother on my answering machine saying "Are you there?  Are you there?  Pick up the phone.  Pick it up.  Pick. It. Up."

For the record, the donuts were very good, but I decided to eliminate the frosting step because of the mess I already had to contend with, and because my hands were stinging.  The kids didn't seem to care.  They ate them, even the extra crispy ones.  They think I'm cool, but I suspect it was because I was *so funny* hooting and jumping around with my burned hands, covered with flour.

I'm thinking this is some sort of sign that I should stick with healthy food and leave the donuts to Krispy Kreme from now on.