Monday, February 20, 2012

Vegetable Oil by the Gallon

A few months ago I broke down and bought a deep fat fryer.

I had a good reason: oven baked donuts just don't cut it. I mean, if I'm going to go to all the trouble to make homemade yeast donuts, they really do need to be deep fried. In my old farmhouse, I used a heavy-duty pot for donut frying, but now that I'm in the Lilliputian cottage, complete with nice new kitchen, I thought I'd go highbrow and get an actual deep fryer. I justified the expenditure by reasoning that cleanliness is a virtue in a new kitchen. Especially my new kitchen.

Maybe I need to explain the kitchen concerns: When I bought the Lilliputian cottage three years ago, I moved in after kicking the squatters out...which happened to be a family of racoons. That should tell you something about the state of affairs I found upon moving in. But it's amazing what a willing group of friends and family can do with lots of cleaning equipment and paint. Well, that coupled with a large dose of carpentry work.

You see, I knew this house from years before, and I knew it had good bones. The family who had called this place home for so long took great care of the place. But times were hard, and the family had to leave, and the house stood empty for many months. There was a doggie door into the garage, and another doggie door into the kitchen, and the racoon family figured that out and set up housekeeping at the end of the hall in one of the linen closets. They lived here rent-free for at least six months, or so the neighbors say.

This derelict little place needed some TLC. My friends and family and I scrubbed and scrubbed, and painted and painted, and the carpenter was here every day for two months. At the end of all that work, everything was spic and span, except for the kitchen. My twin sister had tried her best to make it habitable, and she did an admirable job of it. She'd used vinegar and bleach and cleanser, and she'd worked for hours. But even after all that work, we just couldn't talk ourselves into putting my dishes and food into those cupboards. Racoons. Food. Couldn't do it.

So I pinched my pennies, checked my numbers twice (and then twice more), and decided that if I was really frugal, I could pay cash for a new kitchen. Suddenly that seemed like the very best idea in all the world. Yes! A new kitchen! I went to the local home improvement store and ordered one up:

One of my sons, who is an electrician, installed under-cabinet lighting all across, so when I'm working anywhere in the kitchen I have impeccable light. I love it! In case you're wondering, the writing above the top cupboards (you can see a portion at the top of the photo) says, "May the warm winds of heaven blow softly on this house." My sink was a splurge for me. It's an extra deep farmer's double sink with an extending faucet and instant hot water. I purchased good, solid appliances--workhorses without much pedigree. They have served me well so far; and the best part is that my stovetop has an extra large canning burner, plus a warming burner. Nice! And cheap! (Sort of...)

Okay, so back to the deep fat fryer. I found a great sale. Two models caught my eye. One was small, and the other large. Well, I reasoned, if small is good, large will be better. (Classic "Super-Size" thinking. I had a moment of madness, I'll admit it.) I trundled home with my new, large deep fat fryer and promptly set about frying things. It was so satisfying: tempura shrimp, vegetables of every kind, corn dogs, french fries (the trick with fries is to fry them twice: makes them nice and crisp outside, with soft interiors), onion rings, and the aforementioned donuts.

But here's the rub: I was woefully unprepared for just how much oil this monster takes. Before my first go-round, I had to run to the store for more oil. Then I had to run to the store yet again for still more oil. It takes a lot of oil.

But there's nothing so good as fried donuts on a cold winter morning. Plain, old-fashioned donuts, with chocolate frosting, cinnamon sugar, or powdered sugar. Nothing fancy, mind you. But eaten warm and fresh? Now that's donut heaven.

And one thing I've learned: I now buy cooking oil "super sized." That way I don't run out quite as often.


6 cups all-purpose flour (possibly a bit more)
1 cup lukewarm water
4 1/2 tsp. yeast (2 packages)
1 tblsp. sugar
1 cup scalded milk
2 tsp. salt
3 tblsp. sugar
1/2 cup shortening, slightly humped
3 eggs, beaten

Sift the flour and set aside. In a smaller bowl, pour the water over the yeast, adding the tblsp. of sugar; stir the mixture and let stand. Meanwhile, pour the scalded milk into a large bowl and add the salt, 3 tblsp. sugar, and the shortening. When it cools to lukewarm, add the water/yeast mixture and 3 cups of the flour. Beat the mixture until it is smooth, then add the eggs and the remainder of the flour, a bit at a time. Continue to beat or knead until the dough is well worked. Cover bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place until it is double in size. Roll out and cut out the donuts. Place them on baking sheets that have a bit of oil or flour, or else use waxed paper so they don't stick when you go to (carefully!) taken them off to fry. Let the donuts rise again. Fry the donuts in hot grease. Frost or sugar as desired.
Eat and enjoy!

May God richly bless you and yours!

1 comment:

  1. Georgia, I,m reading your blog on our new IPad! This is so cool. Your house is a testimony to your faith and determination - and God's goodness.