I read this comment from a reader on Cup of Jo a couple months ago and ever since then it has given me so much joy and parental confidence (which if you are a parent you know that is very hard to come by).
“Growing up, my absolute favorite dinner was ‘plate of little things.’ My single mom would slice cheese, apples, crackers, hot dogs, dry cereal, whatever and we would eat it in front of the TV. I told her that recently and she gasped, ‘What? those were the nights I failed. I didn’t cook a thing and was too tired to talk to you guys. That’s ridiculous.’ Goes to show, it may be JUST when we fail that our kids feel most happy.”
Doesn’t that just breathe life into your soul? To think that the times when we are most in our heads beating ourselves up for the choices we are making or the things we AREN’T doing may be just the things that remember with gladness, joy and appreciation?
We’re deep into summer here and like many families we struggle with the work/life balance during the summer especially. Gabe and I are trying to balance our freelance careers while also wanting to give the kids a memorable summer. It’s also the blessed time of the year in the pacific northwest where we feature enviable weather. For once the rest of the country looks to our gray corner longingly and I tell you what, it’s hard to focus on work.
Last week, in an attempt to be both good mom and good boss lady business owner, I took my oldest to the shop with me. He has expressed interest in working for me so I wanted to give him a glimpse of what that work actually looks like. He watered my neglected plants, cleaned up my dishes and helped me develop a few recipes – most of which failed (not his fault). Together we worked on this recipe for turning a Donut or Saturn Peach into a batter-dip and cinnamon sugar coated dream. He took one bite, smiled, said it was good and then asked when we could leave.
I loved having him there, giving him a deeper glimpse into my day-to-day life, listening to his commentary peppered throughout the day but then, as I watched his head droop in boredom and his eyes long for someplace other than mom’s office, I felt guilty. I thought of all the camps I didn’t sign him up for, for the friends I was keeping him from. He should be on the water or on his scooter with his friends not in a hot kitchen standing in front of a steaming dishwasher.
Down deep I realize that these experiences are important and good for him to see the hard work his dad and I do in order to provide for them but the guilt is strong, particularly when I peruse the Facebook streams of others living their best lives. Yes, I too fall victim to believing the social media lies.
The next morning I thought often of that quote above as Gabe and I woke up to our 12 year old asking us if we were ready for breakfast. When we sleepily responded, “we’re ready!” we were greeted with two perfected plated donut peach donuts along with a cup of tea for Gabe and coffee for me. My boy had got up 6 am to recreate the recipe that we made together the day before and surprised us with breakfast in bed along with the sweetest note of gratitude for us as parents.
I’m not sure what spurred on such an act but my goodness, there were tears.
Our kids are now getting to the age where they reflect on their younger years as if they are distant memories. The events they often recall are often the mundane. They are the repeated acts that to them took on meaning. Often they are the times when I as a mom felt as if I was somehow failing them but to them it was felt as love.
I never would have guessed that these simple fried little peaches would spur on one of my most favorite memories as a parent to date.
Donut Peach Donuts
Yield 1 dozen
You guys, this is so fun. My oldest son has tested and written today's recipe and I could not be more proud. I've added a bit more detail and some of my own tips in parenthesis. Hopefully this isn't too confusing.
In case you are wondering, these are even more delicious if someone else makes them for you so considering printing the recipe and sharing with a loved one.
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted and cooled butter
1 dozen Donut or Saturn Peaches
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
Vanilla ice cream (optional)
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon into a large bowl. Then add milk, butter and egg and mix until no flour clumps are showing.
Then grab a large pot and fill it with vegetable oil until a donut peach can float in the oil, and heat. (When filling the oil make sure to leave at least 3-inches of space at the top of the pan to prevent the oil from boiling over.)
Make cinnamon sugar to dip the fried donuts in, which is about 1/3 of a spoon cinnamon and 1/2 a cup sugar. To fry the peaches, stick them in the batter and then put them in the oil. (I found that using two forks for dipping and retrieving the peaches from the batter works well. Gently let the excess batter drip off the donut at the edge of the bowl).
The oil should be ready after about ten minutes. (Heat the oil to about 350°F. You can test if the oil is ready by dropping in a small amount of batter. It should take about 15 - 30 seconds before it starts to color and it will float at the top of the oil). You will know when to pull the donuts out when they look light brown. (This takes about 3 to 4 minutes and I tend to like them a nice deep copper color).
Best served warm. (With vanilla ice cream). Enjoy immediately!