The food I eat is hardly ever beautiful. The food I eat is simple, sometimes processed. It’s comfort food by definition; a de facto reason to live. I eat then I work. I snack, then I play with my dog. I never stop to enjoy my meals but I always put the dishes away for my mother.
The food I eat is hardly ever beautiful, with its lumps of gravy and powdered mashed potatoes. Earthen hues on dishwasher-safe plates. I don’t eat like this by choice; I was much healthier in California. It’s the way my parents cooked for us since we were young. Economically, full-flavored, guiltless and large-portioned. My dad has three helpings of spaghetti on Monday, he liked the way my mother made the meatballs this week.
There is no pretension when it comes to eating here, no need for living beyond the means. How fate dealt my parents a handful of aces and the rest were duds, we eat out sometimes and other times eat vegetables that still taste like the aluminum they were canned in. And in the vacuum where pretension and theatre of cooking should be, the void fills with love. A deep love of food, of butter, of mass and quantity and warmth. How shameless my mother is as she eats her birthday cake with a fork before slicing it for anyone else. How wonderful it was to see her smile while doing so. Food in this sense, in the rawest sense of enjoyment—unfettered by diets and fads and fear of its pleasure—is a sense of home I hadn’t realized before moving back.
I see it now. I embrace it now. I eat what my mother cooks and I’ll gladly sneak a bite of her birthday cake when she’s not looking.
I wrote of my dad’s love of food in Snacks Quarterly, and I wanted to create this recipe for them, for their love of food. For their genuine relationship to eating. Omnivorous, shameless, and always asking if I’d had enough to eat before she puts away the leftovers.
Tahini Coconut Donuts
Yields 12 in a standard donut pan
Ingredients for the Donuts
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons shortening, melted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cup cake flour, sifted
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon sal
Directions for the Donuts
- Preheat oven to 415*F and grease your donut pan
- In measuring glass, whisk together milk, vinegar, eggs, shortening, and vanilla
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to combine
- Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Slowly begin pouring in wet ingredients, mixing slowly
- Mix until all combines
- Gently spoon into prepared donut pan (about three-quarters of the way full in eat round)
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, checking at 7 for browning
- Turn onto a cooling rack while you prepare the tahini icin
Ingredients for the Tahini and Coconut Topping
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream
- 1/2 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut (or as much or as little as you prefer!)
Directions for the Tahini and Coconut Topping
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine tahini butter, and sugar with a fork. Mixture will be lumpy and dry
- Add milk to wet and smooth out mixture. You may need more, depending on desired consistency. You do not want it too runny that it is more of a glaze on the donuts than the preferred icing
- Pour coconut onto a plate and spread out slightly
- To finish donuts: Once donuts are cooled, dip one side into tahini icing and then immediately into the coconut, pressing slightly for coconut to stick. Set aside and repeat for remaining donuts
- Donuts keep for 2 days in airtight container, but best fres