I’m six years old, sitting at the kitchen table in a small town in northeastern Indiana, and I’m not happy.
The evening meal is supposedly finished, but I'm still staring down at my plate, at the seven evil canned green beans that, while not staring back, are still mocking me.
My parents have labeled me a "picky eater,” and my mom is convinced that by forcing me to try a new vegetable every week, I will overcome this stigma. So every week it's seven something. Seven canned green beans. Seven canned lima beans. Seven canned peas.
And why seven? Deadly sins? Days in the week? Dwarves? No idea, and there's no one left to ask. Mom is no longer with us, and Dad had apparently decided that the better part of valor was to disengage from the food wars.
But this strategy just didn’t work. I only became a somewhat more adventurous eater when I went away to college and discovered a newfound love of fresh vegetables prepared by Millie, the cook in my sorority house. Looking back, her food was all the more impressive since college usually means an uninspired form of institutional cooking. Tasting fresh broccoli or a green bean that didn't collapse in defeat was a small miracle.
In Mom's defense, cooking with canned vegetables was a no-win proposition, and although she did not excel at cooking per se, she was an amazing baker. Just look at how excited I am at age one being presented with a cupcake. My involvement in her baking revolved around observation, flouring the rolling pin, and, of course, trying to sneak bits of raw cake batter or cookie dough.
Mom never attempted doughnuts, possibly because she would have been competing with our next-door neighbor. Maxine was of Scottish descent and fried her doughnuts in lard. She called them "hot cakes," and they were legendary all over town. I could always tell when Maxine was frying up a batch because the cooking aromas would waft into our house. I was often the lucky beneficiary of the doughnut holes and was quite happy to follow the rule of eating seven.
My own baking now is gluten-free, including these easy Japanese–style “healthy” doughnuts. Miso’s umami—often called “the fifth taste—gives them a sweet and salty kick, although they would undoubtedly be a bit exotic for Mom, or Maxine.
Kay Douglas is a partner in the New York graphic design studio Douglas+Voss.
Gluten-Free Baked Doughnuts with Miso Glaze
(adapted from Chopsticks magazine)
1 c. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Mix
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 banana, puréed
3 T. maple syrup
1 T. coconut oil
1/8 t. sea salt
additional coconut oil
1 T. almond butter
2 T. maple syrup
1/4 to 1/2 t. red miso
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Sift the gluten free mix, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
Using a hand blender or mortar and pestle, puree the banana and place it in a separate bowl. It should measure to 1/2 cup; if not, add water to increase the amount.
Add coconut oil and maple syrup to banana puree.
Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients.
Coat a doughnut mold pan lightly with coconut oil, and fill with the mixture.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
Combine glaze ingredients in a bowl and add water to make a spreading consistency.
After doughnuts have cooled, remove from the mold, and glaze.
Makes 6 doughnuts.