My brother Dave is getting married in July, so I made doughnuts for breakfast last Saturday.
This makes sense, I promise.
Please, follow along.
(Or, please feel free to skip the next 1,000 words or so and scroll on down until you get to the photo of the doughnuts. I’ll admit, this is a long story, longer than it needs to be for you, but as long as I needed it to be to indulge my need for confessional therapy–and it really will make sense if you follow along.)
My brother Dave is getting married in July. His fiancee, Kim, is a wonderful, beautiful woman–clever, creative, and quirky enough to fit in perfectly with the rest of our family. We love her!
(Dave’s daughter, Lilly, loves Kim, too, and the affection is mutual. Again, perfect.)
I’m a bridesmaid. This will be my third bridesmaid gig in less than a year. When it rains, it pours, they say. Or maybe this is just what happens when your best friend, your husband’s best friend, and your brother get hitched within ten months of each other.
Of course, one of my bridesmaid duties is working with the other bridesmaids to plan the shower, which is coming up this Saturday. More about that later (because, of course, I’ll be cooking).
My other responsibility is buying a dress.
Kim picked a pretty, peachy petal pink for us to wear.
She’s not picky about the style, preferring instead that we each choose a dress that suits and flatters us. (This, fortunately enough, has been my experience with all three of the beautiful brides who’ve asked me to be in their weddings and buy dresses for the occasion–no bridezillas here.)
She’s not even picky about the precise shade of peachy petal pink, as long as we’re all pretty close.
Finally, Kim really wanted us to be able to buy these dresses without spending a ton of money, so she scoured the web for links to some very pretty–and very economical–options.
Armed with ideas, Kim and I took a shopping trip near the end of April. First we visited H&M, where another bridesmaid had already found her perfect dress in the right color. There, I tried on this lovely number:
What you can’t tell from this photo is how translucent the fabric is. But when I put the dress on, I wasn’t even really comfortable enough to leave the fitting room and show it to Kim. Through this wispy little frock, I could see my bellybutton, the tattoo on my hip, even a few of the freckles on my back. Easy solution: a slip. The only problem is, a July wedding in Georgia isn’t ideal for wearing multiple layers of clothing, especially layers with sleeves. Indecent transparency aside, the dress didn’t fit me well anyway, as blousy styles like this often don’t.
Goodbye, Dress #1.
Moving on, we visited Forever 21, a store I’d heard of but never been inside. Very cute, trendy, of-the-moment styles in lots of colors. But while the website had advertised plenty of peachy pink dresses, none of them were available in the store for me to try on.
I returned home from this shopping trip empty-handed but convinced nonetheless that I could just order a dress via the internet–or even order several, keep my favorite, and return the others.
That’s exactly what I decided to do. I chose three dresses from the Forever 21 website that appeared to be the right color (or at least close to it). I ordered all three, eagerly anticipated their arrival, tracked the package every day until it arrived, wondered which one would be perfect and which two I would send back.
Dress #2 was the right color, but it looked too much like lingerie to even consider wearing to a wedding. Dress #3 was a little light, a bit boxy on top, and scandalously skimpy on bottom, despite my petite frame. Two returns.
Dress #4? Much less pink and much more beige than I’d hoped, so it won’t work for the wedding. But, I loved it. So I kept it. And I wore it out on a date with Micah the other night, because he liked it, too.
I didn’t panic, because at this point it was only mid-May. Still two months to find a dress.
After a long afternoon of shopping downtown and several hours of online searching over several more days, I discovered Dress #5. It was–it had to be–the one:
I had tried it in a size small at one of the cute little dress boutiques downtown, but it was much too snug. So I ordered the medium with alterations in mind, anxiously awaited its arrival, tracked the package obsessively, squealed when it finally arrived.
Of course the medium was too big, as I had expected, but that’s what tailors are for, right?
Wrong. The very nice woman at the alterations shop informed me that because of the location of the zipper, darts, and pleats, and because of the delicate latticework at the top, there was no way that she could take in and shorten the bodice of this dress.
Dear readers, I wept. Tears of frustration–helpless, hopeless tears–welled in my eyes, then spilled from my lids. Right there in the middle of the alterations shop, while I stood staring at that shapeless, saggy, sad sack of a dress.
At this point, it was now a month and a half before Dave and Kim’s big day. The other three bridesmaids had all purchased their own perfect dresses, while I had four frocks hanging in my closet that wouldn’t work for the wedding (and three that wouldn’t work for anything).
Having visited every store in Athens that peddles dresses–new, secondhand, and vintage; trendy and classic; spendy and thrifty; sundresses, work dresses, formal dresses–I knew I needed to expand my search area.
Which brought me, one drizzly afternoon, to Commerce, Georgia. Originally a mill village, this little town eventually incorporated itself as Harmony Grove during the late 1800s. But in 1904, the city reincorporated, renamed itself, reinvented itself. Harmony Grove, folks said, was too countrified, too old-fashioned. Commerce sounded modern and fresh, would encourage businesses to come here, stay here, grow and flourish here. And that is exactly what business has done. I hear there is still a classic, charming, homespun downtown area of Commerce, which I’ve never visited myself. What has put Commerce on the map, besides its proximity to the interstate, is its impressive collection of chain restaurants and retail locations, including a staggering strip mall mecca of Tanger Outlets.
You can read a fictionalized account of the Harmony-Grove-to-Commerce transformation in one of my very favorite novels:
Surely, in the vast commercial wasteland that is Commerce, Georgia, I could find one dress. Preferably one that fit, one that was the right shade of peachy pink, one that didn’t resemble a nightie.
I wish I could tell you I bought the perfect dress that afternoon. I wish I could tell you that I squealed with delight and sighed with relief when the zipper slid into place. I wish I could tell you that, after visiting every single store that sold women’s clothing, I located even one single dress that day that was the right color.
I wish I could tell you this, because it would mean that my harrowing quest was finally over.
What did I come home with that day instead of a dress?
A new green rain jacket from the Eddie Bauer outlet.
An old-fashioned hand-crank ice cream churn from the antique shop.
A big bag of toys from the kitchen store:
- New tongs
- A bag of corks and bottle stoppers for Micah’s boozy infusions
- One single-handed pepper-grinder with a little magnet on it so it’ll stick to the fridge
- Eight long, metal skewers for the grill
My brother is getting married in July, so I made doughnuts for breakfast last Saturday.
Really good doughnuts, in fact.
Chocolate doughnuts. Because, why the heck not? I earned them.
Having never made doughnuts before, I looked for a recipe on the web to model mine after. And then, like always, I changed it.
What’s in it:
- For the doughnuts:
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon melted butter
- For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease your doughnut pan if you’d like. (My 6-doughnut vessel was nonstick, so I took a risk and didn’t grease or spray. It worked out just fine!)
- In one bowl, stir together the flours, cocoa, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and sugar.
- In another bowl, whisk the milk, coffee, vanilla, and egg.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients, then stir in the melted butter.
- Divide the batter among your six doughnut rings.
- Bake for 13 minutes.
- While the doughnuts bake, whisk together the ingredients for the glaze in a wide, shallow bowl.
- Set up a wire cooling rack over a piece of foil, parchment paper, newspaper, etc., unless you want sticky drops of glaze to drip onto your counter.
- Let the doughnuts cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then gently remove them from the pan to a wire cooling rack. (I used a flexible silicone spatula to help me with this.)
- Dip each doughnut in the bowl of glaze, then stick it back on the cooling rack while you dip the others.
- Take a picture–they’re pretty!
- Enjoy with coffee. Try not to eat all of them in one sitting–but, if you do, it’s okay.
As Micah ate his doughnut, I asked him for an assessment. Rich, just sweet enough, really good.
Then I revealed my changes to the original recipe–less fat, less sugar, half whole-wheat flour. Apparently, not bad modifications, though Micah did remark that he’d like to try the full-fat version.
Since our Saturday doughnuts, three more pink dresses have arrived in the mail:
Yes, you read that correctly. After six weeks of shopping and seven dud dresses, I have finally, miraculously, triumphantly found something to wear in Dave and Kim’s wedding.
The best part? My chocolate doughnuts are healthy enough that even if I eat a whole bunch of them before the big day, I’ll still fit into this fetching little frock.