July 5, 2012

Three Helpful Tips for Newlywed Life
(+ Doughnuts with Grapefruit Curd)

It’s July now, which means that we are mired in the blackest depths of wedding season.  (That’s my take, anyway; if you like doing the YMCA in uncomfortable shoes and running interference between your second cousin and “handsy Uncle Leon,” more power to you.)  Since it’s recently been brought to my attention that I’m coming up on my first wedding anniversary, this seems a perfect time to give you soon-to-be brides a few bits of hard-earned wisdom.  There are plenty of books on marriage out there, and plenty of relatives who’d like to give you advice.  The following three matters, however, were never mentioned in any of my sources, and took me completely by surprise.  Lest you be similarly gobsmacked, consider this list my wedding gift to you. 

1.   Nobody Cares About Your Charming Personality 
                (Except Your Husband, and Even His Motives are Suspect)

From the very first second that you are legally married, everyone around you is going to take a sudden and disconcerting interest in your uterus.  If they are especially polite, elderly relatives greeting you at the reception will wait until after they tell you how lovely you look before launching into questions about your sperm-related plans.  But most won’t.

In the weeks and months following the wedding, the behavior of previously rational human beings will become increasingly worrisome.  Potential grandparents with degrees in the field of medicine will try to convince you that pregnancy will help your cramps, your skin, and possibly that ingrown toenail.  Every adult you have ever met, and some whom you have only heard of in passing, will be rooting for you to become impregnated.  This will be mildly confusing, since up to this point your entire life will have consisted of various people warning you not to become impregnated, lest your life be ruined.  Etiquette dictates that you ignore this glaring inconsistency.

The glazed and slightly manic looks on the faces around you and the constant mantra “Baaaaaby.  Baaaaaby.” are going to be unnerving.  You will grow concerned that this is the start of the zombie apocalypse, or possibly some sort of alien virus.  Your first instinct will be to discuss this with your husband, as he is, after all, your partner and helpmeet for all eternity.  Fight this impulse - not because you’re wrong, but because your new spouse probably isn’t going to take kindly to you referring to your in-laws as “the spore people.” 

Unless you actually want to become impregnated, I would suggest bribing an as-yet unattached sibling to become engaged in order to take the attention off of you.  As a long-term measure, you might want to consider adopting a wolverine or some other mostly-feral animal.  One of you may lose a limb or two, but you will develop a reputation for eccentricity that others will feel is incompatible with parenthood; with luck, they may even stop suggesting it altogether.

2.   What’s Mine is Yours, Except When it’s Miiiiiine.

When you are first married, or possibly even from the moment you agree to get married, you will subscribe to the concept of “What’s Yours is Mine and What’s Mine is Yours.”  This will seem adorable to you.  It will be a symbol of your new life together and how things will be between you for the rest of all eternity.  You will answer questions like “Why on earth do you own a copy of Celebrity Ice Dancers 3?” with responses such as “I don’t own a copy of Celebrity Ice Dancers 3.  We own a copy of Celebrity Ice Dancers 3.”  These verbal snuggles will remain humorous and charming to you even as complete strangers roll their eyes and make gagging gestures after overhearing them in restaurants.  You will be enamored with the way that you, and he, and your possessions are all forever intertwined in one glorious ball of love.

Until the moment when the party of the first comes home and finds the party of the second polishing off the party of the first’s favorite pint of Haagen-Dazs.  This is when shit gets real.  You will come to the sudden realization that some things are not, at the very core of their being, designed for sharing.  Like bathing suits.  Or sheep.  Or anything labeled “snack-sized.”  You will also suddenly feel, in a visceral way, the logical truth that the unsharable nature of these items proves that even the universe doesn’t think you should have to hand over your Java Chip.  This transition point is normal, and should be embraced as healthy; you should, however, stop yourself at the point at which you’re baring your teeth at your new spouse.  You may want to consider investing in a chest freezer to hold all the extra ice cream you’ll be purchasing.

3.   Count Chocula May Not Be a Husband-Approved Dinner Option

Were you aware that some people expect an evening meal to contain representatives from several different food groups?  One of which must be meat?  Or that it will take place at approximately the same time every evening, and not at whatever post-lunch time your body decides that it would like to eat something and then be done eating for the rest of the evening?  Say, 3:00, or possibly 9:00?  Did you know that some people have inexplicable aversions to exactly the sorts of foodstuffs which should top their list of favorites because of their sheer awesomeness (i.e. mushrooms, pork chops and red bell peppers)?  It’s possible that you may even experience a moment in which a loved one wanders into the kitchen, points at an obvious food item (say,  guacamole, or Parmesan cheese outside the confines of a green can) and says “What’s that?” Attempt to control your “horrified shock” face.  Try to remember that this is sad rather than insulting, and that they deserve your compassion and aid.

It turns out that eating may be the greatest compromise that you as a young married couple will ever have to make.  Especially if one of you has lived since the age of 14 in various homes in which you were the only one cooking and eating actual food, and thus never had to negotiate such issues as eating times, ingredient lists, or what, precisely, the word “meal” implies.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the days are over when you plopped down in front of an episode of Doctor Who and ate strawberries until they started to bore you, and then topped it off with five spoonfuls of cold cheesy potatoes right out of the gratin in front of the open fridge.  Just remember: when one door closes, another opens.  Now there are two of you eating in the house, and you can make a batch of donuts guilt-free without stewing in the sure knowledge that you’re very definitely going to single-handedly eat a dozen donuts.

Doughnuts with Grapefruit Curd
by Joanne Chang and Christie Matheson

Making doughnuts breaks two of the completely arbitrary rules I used to have about choosing recipes: no yeast doughs and no frying.  Both seemed excessively fiddly and time-consuming, and I suppose that in a sense that’s true.  But most of that time in either case is down time - waiting for dough to rise or heating and cooling oil – which leaves you free.  And the payoff of satisfaction from both vastly outweighs any inconvenience.  Kneading a yeast dough takes you to the place of the primal baker, reminding you just what food is and why we make it.  And the triumph of frying cannot be overstated.  Seeing something emerge from your own kitchen that was previously only magically available from a restaurant?  Incredibly empowering.  I promise you that a Saturday morning in which you produce fresh and golden doughnuts from scratch is a morning that no one is ever going to forget.  And if, like Mr. Bear, you are squeamish about grapefruit, fill ‘em with jam.  Our blueberry version was spectacular.

Active Dry Yeast  [ 2 ½ teaspoons ]
Whole Milk  [ 2/3 cup, at room temperature ]
All-Purpose Flour  [ 3 ½ cups ]
Sugar  [ 1  1/3 cups ]
Coarse Salt  [ 2 teaspoons ]
Eggs  [ 3, large ]
Unsalted Butter  [ 7 tablespoons, cut into 7 pieces, at room temperature ]
Canola Oil  [ for frying ]
Grapefruit Curd  [ recipe below ]

The Night Before:
1.   Fit the dough hook attachment into an electric mixer.

2.   In mixer bowl, stir together Active Dry Yeast and Whole Milk.  Let sit for at least 1 minute, so that yeast can dissolve.

3.   Stir in Flour,  1/3 cup Sugar, Salt, and Eggs.  Mix on Low for 3-4 minutes. 

4.   Add in 1-2 pieces of Butter, and mix well.  Repeat 3 times, until all butter is thoroughly mixed in.  This should take 5-6 minutes.  Dough should feel soft.

5.   Take dough out of mixing bowl and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Place in fridge for 6-15 hours. 

The Next Morning:
1.   Prepare a cookie sheet by lightly flouring it.

2.   Sprinkle flour generously on countertop.  Roll out dough to ½-inch thick.  This will be approximately 12x12 inches. 

3.   Cut out doughnuts with a 3 ½ - 4-inch biscuit cutter.  Set doughnuts on the prepared cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap.

4.   Set cookie sheet in a warm place and leave until doughnuts have doubled in height and feel poofy if you poke one gently; this should take 2-3 hours.  I like to set my cookie sheet on a heating pad turned to high.

Now We Fry:
1.   Fill a large pot with at least 3 inches of Canola Oil.  Clip a deep-fry thermometer to pot.  Heat oil over Medium-High heat to 350 degrees.  This could take a while.  It’s a lot of liquid.  Be patient.

2.   Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet with paper towels.  Place the remaining 1 cup Sugar in a bowl large enough to fit a doughnut.

3.   Once oil has reached 350 degrees, place as many doughnuts in the oil as can fit comfortably without crowding.  Fry 2-3 minutes on each side, turning once, until both sides are golden brown. 

4.   Using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove doughnuts from oil and place on the paper-towel-lined cookie sheet.

5.   Repeat with remaining doughnuts.

6.   When each doughnut has cooled enough to handle comfortably, place it in the bowl of sugar and turn until fully coated.

7.   Return doughnuts to cookie sheet until completely cooled.  This could take 30-45 minutes.

Finishing Touches:
1.   Remove Grapefruit Curd from fridge and stir to loosen.

2.   Place curd in a pastry bag fitted with a round tip.

3.   Poke tip through the side of each doughnut and squeeze to fill.

Alternatively, place curd in a small bowl and spread a touch on each bite as you eat the doughnut.  This is my preference: it saves a step and you end up getting more curd.

Makes 9-12 doughnuts.

Grapefruit Curd
by Katie Goodman

I’ve never seen a filling better suited to doughnuts: just slightly more bitter than lemon curd, it counteracts the sweetness and richness of the pastry perfectly.  It tastes so refreshing that I’m tempted to claim that it washes the doughnut calories right away – but feel free to double-check that one with your physician.

Grapefruit Juice  [ ½ cup ]
Lemon Juice  [ 2 tablespoons ]
Grapefruit Zest  [ 1 tablespoon ]
Sugar  [ 1 ½ cups ]
Egg Yolks  [ 8 ]
Unsalted Butter  [ 10 tablespoons, cut into 10 pieces ]

1.   In a medium pot, mix Grapefruit Juice, Lemon Juice, Grapefruit Zest, and Sugar

2.   Bring to a simmer over Medium Heat; then reduce heat to Low.

3.   Whisk Egg Yolks until smooth.  Then, whisking continuously, slowly pour half of the warm juice mixture into yolks. 

4.   Once this is thoroughly mixed, pour the yolk mixture back into the pot with the rest of the juice mixture.  Whisk to combine.

5.   Whisking constantly, cook over low heat for 5-10 minutes, until mixture is thick and will coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat.

6.   Add Butter to mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time.

7.   Pour curd through a sieve into a bowl.  Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate.

Makes about 2 cups.


  1. Haha... This is hilarious.. Its comforting that me and boyfriend agreed to not sharing our buckets of popcorns and M&ms. Oh and not to mention fries. Its mine when its across his half of the table. And we agree to have Brinner-Breakfast for dinner. :D

    Grapefruit curd doughnuts.. Yum!

  2. Brinner is the BEST! I'm thinking about some ricotta pancakes with blueberry sauce right now. :)