Once a year we have doughnut day.
It’s one of the more perfect traditions in my circle of friends.
But, of course, it’s not about the doughnuts. Okay, maybe a little about the doughnuts. But it’s mostly about the people.
It’s about Jan and her daughter. The one with the swinging braids and tender heart. The little girl who came in a whirlwind of a miracle.
It’s about Julie and her babies. All five of them. The big girls who are stretching tall and independent. The twins who are all giggles and ready for doughnut snitching. Oh, and we can’t forget the littlest. He’s a boy. Just a tiny four-month-old boy who snuggles and smiles over his mama’s shoulder.
And it’s Amber, with her laughter and stories of North Africa and the smile that stretches across her face and lights up the room and this side of the world.
And April, who is all sweetness, who has this spunky almost-three-year-old and a shy older daughter and a three-month-old bundle of boy.
We can’t forget Patty. The mother and the chief baker. Her daughters told her, “Not so many doughnuts this year, Mom! There is no need for 30-some dozen!”
So she cut back. We only made 19 dozen or so.
Patty is efficiency and amazing baking and love and compassion all wrapped up together.
I could go through the list, one by one, and whisper their tales. Each woman full of trials and dreams and sorrows and joy.
But I will tell you this: there is great beauty to be found. It’s wrapped up tight in the swirls of community and the laughter and discussions and hope and prayer requests and sweet sticky messes.
God created us for community– for sharing our thoughts on homeschooling and homemade vanilla and adoption and hope. He created us to interact. To be purposeful about being together.
To share all those stories with one another in the warmth of a big kitchen, as the kids dart from room to room and giggle as they snitch their fifth doughnut.
And sometimes, oh, sometimes, we just need to grab a big bowl of dough and a deep fryer and make the phone calls.
Sure it’s a sticky mess. But it’s worth it.
And I know, I know, that it’s just doughnuts. Except I can’t help but think of Jesus, at the last supper, telling them “do this in remembrance of me” and breaking the bread and passing it from one to the next. Reminding them to be purposeful about remembering, about gathering together. Not just on a Sunday morning, but sometimes just on a weekday afternoon.
Maybe, dare I say, especially on a weekday afternoon?
Raised Doughnuts (Recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook)
3/4 cup warm milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. yeast
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup soft shortening
3-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Soak yeast in water and set aside for 5 minutes. Mix together milk, sugar and salt. Add yeast. Stir in remaining ingredients. When the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl, turn it out onto a lightly floured board to knead. Knead dough until it is smooth, elastic and doesn’t stick to the board.
Place in greased bowl, turning once to have the greased side up. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in warm, draft-free spot until double in size (1 to 2 hours). Punch fist into center of dough. Pull edges into center and turn completely over in bowl. Let rise again until almost double (30 to 45 minutes).
Roll out dough 1/3-inch thick. Cut with floured 3-inch doughnut cutter. Let rise on board until very light (30 to 45 minutes). Leave uncovered so that a crust will develop on the dough.
Drop into hot deep fat (375°F). Drain on absorbent paper.
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-6 tablespoons milk (depending on your desired consistency)
Combine all of the ingredients into a bowl with a fork. If the glaze is too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar. If the glaze is too thick, stir in a little extra milk.