This will be one of the only, if not THE ONLY, entry I ever post to the WFW Blog with a recipe that I wouldn’t recommend you consume regularly. It’s…donuts!
To be more accurate: fastnachts. My professional goal in life is to help people realize their goals and best health through food. My personal mission in life is to make sure every man, woman, and child in the world has had a fastnacht. Today we’re focusing on goal #2. How do I strike this balance? I follow a hard 364:1 rule – fastnachts only get ONE DAY a year!
Ah, fastnachts. They’re a PA Dutch/German/Lutheran tradition on Shrove Tuesday (also know as Mardi Gras to some), originally cooked to use up all of the fat and sugar in a home to prepare for Lent, the church season of reflecting on the time that Jesus spent 40 days and nights fasting in a desert. The word literally means “fast night” – as in, a night you refrain from eating. Not sure exactly how that became “binge on donuts” night, but hey, this wouldn’t be the first inconsistency the church has presented :P
Related to health, there are actually a few things these little treats can actually teach us:
- Only really, really delicious treats are worth eating. I will barely look at a grocery store donut, and I actually dislike the ones that are pre-made and boxed. Compared to a fastnacht, they have no depth of flavor, no satisfying outer-layer crunch, no real substance. Not worth the empty calories.
- If it’s really, really rich/sweet/delicious, it’s something you should save and savor for very infrequent, special occasions. This is what most people just don’t get: the NUMBER ONE source of calories in the American diet are sweet treats; ie, junk food like cake and cookies. As in, we’re eating those things every day, more than any other single category of food.
- Let’s revisit the concept of using up the sugar and fat by making these things: they do that because for the duration of Lent, you don’t eat any “treats” at all. You reflect on your blessings and gain some empathy for those less fortunate than you. Whether you’re Hindi, Mormon, or an atheist – you can’t argue that we can all do more of that! Gratitude is healthy. Greed leads to gluttony.
- Food is more than fuel – it’s culture, and love, and tradition, and religion, and when those things all come together in a tasty little deep-fried, sugar-covered, dough ball, you eat one to celebrate how fr-eak-ing good it is to be human.
Now, I give you: fastnachts.
- 2½ cups mashed potatoes
- 1 cup buttermilk (or regular milk)
- 3 beaten eggs
- 2 Tablespoons melted butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 Tablespoons baking powder
- 5-6 cups flour (depending on how sticky the batter is)
- 3-4 c canola oil
Melt butter in a bowl. Blend in eggs, then milk, then baking powder, then mashed potatoes, then sugar with a hand mixer
Add flour in slowly.
Cut with a donut cutter or use a knife to cut into squares.
Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown, flipping once. Hot oil is HOT. Beware of splashing!
Toss with granulated sugar in a bag to coat.
Remember, this process will be most pleasant with a good friend, a glass of wine, and some peppy music!