Crime, Punishment, and Donuts

So tomorrow is payday.  Which, as many of you immediately understand, means that all meals today will fall under the category of either “creative” or “desperate”, depending on your point of view.  I prefer “practical”, since I’ll be darned if I’m going to subject myself to the horror that is a stopgap grocery shopping trip with five children under the age of ten.

While 7 months pregnant.

Oh no.  I’ll just suck it up and make peanut butter crackers and carrots for lunch, and our bi-monthly meal of “let’s clear out the refrigerator and freezer for dinner” dinner.  Those of you who’ve seen The Birdcage may pick up the reference when we call those extra creative meals “Sweet and Sour Peasant Soup”.

Lunch and dinner are easy enough, but breakfast is another beast entirely.  We don’t generally eat cereal around here.  Cereal, I’ve found, costs an awful lot for a single box of something that will be utterly consumed in one setting (even the big boxes don’t last more than a single meal around five hungry kids), and still result in a chorus of “but I’m huuuuuunnnnnngreeeeeeeeee!!” a mere 45 minutes later.  Since we homeschool, our mornings are slower than they would be if we had children to get on a bus in time, so I’m able to make a hot breakfast that will hopefully keep the minions full for up to three hours.  For three glorious hours free from people clinging to me demanding to be fed, I’m willing to put some effort into breakfast.

But all that means day-before-payday hits my breakfast making abilities hardest, since the staples: milk, butter, eggs, appetite suppressants, etc. being the most popular, are the first to run out.  So I’m left really digging deep into my imaginary bag of culinary skills to pull out some filling meal.

Today, and all I can think is that it must have been the Lenten spirit of mortification that drove me to do it, I found myself standing in the kitchen, looking at five creatures waving their arms and gaping their mouths and approaching uncomfortably close, and saying to them out of desperation, “What about homemade donuts, kids?”

They stopped in their tracks. They considered this unexpected offer.  They accepted with cheers and improvised dancing.  I told them they had to leave me alone for the process to happen, and so they did.

Then the panic set in.  Homemade donuts?  Can you even make those?  I live in New England, where there are more Dunkin Donuts than churches and banks.  Would a SWAT team of men wearing uniforms emblazoned with an orange and pink DD bust through the windows?  If so, what would the odds be that they’d bring breakfast with them?

As I set to working my way out of the breakfast debacle I’d found myself in, The Jude, my three year old resident evil genius, came wandering into the kitchen.  He was muttering something which I didn’t even try to decipher, since I was puzzling my way through a donut recipe I’d found online.  Did you know donut dough has to riseTwice?  And that you need some sort of specific tool to cut the stupid things?  Come on!  Aren’t donuts just glorified deep fried dough?  The thought about deep fried foods shook me out of breakfast panic long enough to shoo The Jude out of the kitchen, since we do actually maintain some safety standards around here.  “If the deep fryer is on, all little people are to remain hovering at the kitchen threshold.  No admittance.”

See?  We’re not totally reckless.

Luckily, homemade donuts are as nutritionally void as their commercially produced counterparts are, so I had all the ingredients on hand.  While I was mixing the dough, The Jude wandered in again, holding a puppet in his hands and still muttering something.  He got the boot just as quickly the second time.

Finally, once I realized that the dough had to rise for a good hour before I could do anything with it, I turned off the deep fryer, and allowed Jude entrance into the kitchen.

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Cari Donaldson


Cari Donaldson lives on a New England farm with her high school sweetheart, their six kids, and a menagerie of animals of varying usefulness. She is the author of Pope Awesome and Other Stories, and has a weekly podcast about homesteading at

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  • Debb Carlson

    I absolutely can’t wait for your best-seller, “Cari Donaldson: Raising the Minions”!

  • I considered turning the deep fryer back on and putting my hand into it, just to find a way out of this conversation.”

    Holy cow.  I laughed so especially hard at this part…because I have BEEN THERE.

  • JoAnna Wahlund

    “Better to feed The Jude, than have him feed me to the Shark.”

    Words of wisdom.