BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘Richmond

Donuts in Maine and Oregon

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A $5 shift’s end grab-bag from Voodoo Donuts newish location in downtown Eugene, conveniently near the KLCC studio.

I’ve never been much of a doughnut girl. Sure, I’ll indulge in an occasional airy Krispy Kreme or a coconut-frosted from the 24-hour Donut Pub when I lived in Chelsea (as featured in Louis CK), but they generally don’t seem worth the calories. Not my go-to vice. However, Dan (and his dad) love a good donut, so I’m wont to buy them to be a good wife.

While working at KLCC, I once came home with a nasty $5 bucket from Voodoo Donuts. That’s how they clear out the inventory at the end of each shift. It was chock full of Capt’n Crunch, Double-Bubble GumĀ and rainbow sprinkle-clad donuts, way too syrupy-sweet for my palate. Dan gifted most of them to the OSU economics student lounge, where they were appreciated. The Voodoo thing is more about shock-value than flavor. We did enjoy their Neapolitan (chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, tangy strawberry sugar and marshmellows in whole) and the huge Memphis Mafia (glazed banana fritter topped with peanut butter, nuts and chocolate). Voodoo can not be judged by its mediocre glazed donut. And just say no to Voodoo’s gimmicky Bacon Maple Ale, brewed by Rogue. It’s expensive and supposedly nasty.

OId-school Tony’s Donuts in the other Portland (Maine) is a favorite of my father-in-law’s. Tony’s is known for its molasses donuts, both cake and glazed. Delicious with coffee!

So far, Maine donuts are more my style, with old-fashioned, uncomplicated flavors. I hit up landmark Tony’s Donuts on the drive back from the Portland airport last week. Tony’s kept my father-in-law warm and happy when his Visicu work took him to Maine Med. The sought-after glazed molasses is my order at Tony’s.

Nothing says New England like molasses. They put it in their baked beans, their cornmeal-studded Anadama bread and brew it into dark rum. Tony’s Donuts in Portland is famous for their molasses donuts, both cake and glazed. They’re like a cakey, fried, spiced molasses cookie.

Now, it’s rare that I’ll have two donuts in one week. This is not a habit I’m looking to acquire. But Dan came home from a downtown eye appointment today with two donuts from Frosty’s, whose reputation seems to exceed Tony’s, at least here in Brunswick. The blueberry one tasted artificial, but the glazed buttermilk one, yes buttermilk!, was a revelation. So light and creamy and not at all cloying. Almost like the famous Mrs. Yoder’s sourdough ones at the Richmond Farmer’s Market. These buttermilk donuts won’t help in the ongoing quest to lose the baby weight (sure, blame it on the baby even though you had those pounds to lose before he was even conceived). I was already worried about the freshman fifteen with the stellar dining hall food, which we do partake of here.

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Considering MFK Fisher’s Oysters

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Consider the Oyster Stew: my re-creation of Mama Zu's version.

Granted East Coast seafood doesn’t usually compare to our abundant Pacific Northwest offerings: orange-red wild salmon, Dungeness crab, mussels, halibut. We even have our own respected local Yaquina Bay oysters there. But I might just prefer those plumper Chesapeake Bay oysters I indulged in while back here in Virginia. I got a mad craving for these luscious, briny mollusks while savoring MFK Fisher’s Consider the Oyster on the plane from Oregon to Baltimore. It’s hard to believe she produced such celebratory prose while facing the imminent death of her true love in war-torn 1941.

Fisher’s musings on the gastronomical pleasures of oysters made me lust for this most sensual of foods. She aptly describes the “three kinds of oyster-eaters: those loose-minded sports who will eat anything, hot, cold, thin, thick, dead or alive, as long as it is oyster; those who will eat them raw and only raw; and those who with equal severity will eat them cooked and no way other.” When it comes to oysters, as with all foods, I’m an omnivore, but I do prefer to slurp the freshest specimens raw. If they aren’t freshly shucked, my dad’s Mexican oysters and now oyster stews are my favorite cooked preparations. And of course I love them fried, if they aren’t too greasy, the batter light and slightly spicy. My grandparents contracted a bad case of hepatitis from some type of raw shellfish, so I try to avoid suspect ones.

Reading Fisher made me want to make a velvety oyster stew, that elegant “supper to sleep on” that I’d hardly eaten before. But there it was calling out to us this week at Mama Zu’s, our favorite no frills-yet-decadent Italian spot. What gave the creamy, smooth broth its piquancy? A pancetta base and crushed red pepper, obviously strained out, the waitress said. I had to recreate it.

Oyster stew recipes are as numerous as clam chowders, varying by region. Despite its simplicity, oyster stew gives the cook plenty of options, Fisher says. How do you assemble your ingredients? Boil the oysters in their own liquor first, and then add the creamy broth? Saute the oysters in butter first, until they furl? My father the chef recommended the latter. I fried up some pancetta, added the oysters and sizzled them with some dried chipotle peppers for a kick. In a separate pot, I boiled the oyster’s liquor, skimmed off the foam, added heavy cream and whole milk (healthy, I know), a pat of butter, celery salt and salt and pepper to taste. Feel free to substitute/add other spices, such as paprika. I simmered this broth and then added the oysters when ready. For a perfect texture you could strain the broth first, but I didn’t care.

Here’s to oysters for the rest of these winter “r” months. In truth, oysters are fine to eat anytime they aren’t diseased, but Fisher explains why oyster farmers have urged us not to consume them in the warm summer months. That’s the only time the ocean waters are warm enough for the oysters to spawn. Hence the rule. Indulge while you can now, comfort yourself now while the fields lie fallow, and then let our “indecisively sexed” friends reproduce in peace. Summer’s bounty will be enough to distract us then.

Fried oysters at Mama Zu's.

Written by baltimoregon

December 26, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Cougars in Corvallis

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Cougar/Flickr Creative Commons/By ucumari

Cougar/Flickr Creative Commons/By ucumari

Yikes! A ferocious cougar was spotted mauling a house cat right here in Corvallis last month. Once hunted to extinction, it seems record numbers of the giant cats live in Oregon these days. Now a young college student has mobilized to save the spotted cougar’s life here. If one crosses my path, I just hope it’s at a safe distance.

It’s pretty surreal to be living in proximity to such a feral beast, which mostly seemed a mythical creature as our school mascot. The closest we got to seeing a real cougar growing up was the stuffed, glass-encased one in the gym.

Written by baltimoregon

May 18, 2009 at 12:38 am

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