During most of my high school years, I was awkward. Really awkward I had gigantic, round glasses that made me look some sort of bug with large eyes. I was a complete dork. I wasn’t fashionable although in my own head, I thought my “patterned vests” look was pretty sweet. I had my small group of close friends but I was definitely not popular. I was quiet and painfully shy. In fact, I still am when I first meet new people. And I just never had good hair. Note the “mushroom” hair do below. It was usually kept short and boyish until about my senior year when I finally got some style to my short cut.
In fact, I once thought it was a good idea to shave the sides of my very short hair. And by shave I mean, like with a regular old razor, to the scalp shaved. I don’t know what I was thinking. What kind of fashion statement I was trying to make? After the first pass of the razor, you might think I would have stopped and realized it was a colossal mistake but oh no… I did a bit more and then even more. I shaved a large rectangle, nearly the entire left side of my head before I came to my senses and said to myself, “SELF!! WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING?!?” Needless to say, it looked simply terrible. At which point I switched to panic mode and frantically tried to cover the shaved portion of my head with the remaining hair I had on the upper portion of my head in the hopes that my mother wouldn’t see my new hair style.
After a few minutes I convinced myself it wasn’t all that bad. Surely she wouldn’t even notice. I went upstairs and nervously went about my business. I tried to carefully proceed around the house, traveling paths that would ensure my mother was always situated to my right. For a while everything was fine and I began to relax. Everything was going to be fine. Then disaster struck. As I stood in the kitchen later that afternoon, talking on the phone I had almost completely forgotten about the whole horrible ordeal. I happily chatted away, my mother in the room the whole time yet I had not a worry in the world. Then it happened. She crossed the room to where I was, reached out and gently began stroking my hair! It didn’t even register at first. My mother is always touching our hair in that loving way that a mother sometimes does. Even now that my siblings and I are adults, she’s always touching somebody’s hair.
It was like slow motion… the gentle stroke of her hand as I continue to talk on the phone and then that stroke changed to more of a sweep. This was quickly followed by, “Katie!! What did you do?!?” I immediately started blubbering and crying like an idiot. We sat on the floor of the living room as I tried to explain what had no real explanation other than teenage insanity. My mother listened. Quietly. Too quietly. I finally had to actually as if I was in trouble. She calmly said, “Oh, no. No, I’m not going to punish you. But you have to tell Nana.”
Those words lingered heavy in the air before bringing on a fresh new flood of tears as fear struck my heart. The idea of having to relive this stupidity by recounting the story to my grandmother seemed like the end of the world. I knew Nana would be so disappointed in me and would just not like the idea of her granddaughter having shaved part of her head. She would not like this one bit. I don’t remember if my mother ever actually followed through and made me tell my grandmother (**Did I ever tell you that, Nan?) but the mere thought of it was punishment enough. I was mortified.
High school is such a trying time for some many kids. I would never want to relive that time for any amount of money. I worry now that HB is about to embark on those times herself in just a few short months. (That’s crazy that I have a daughter going into HIGH SCHOOL!!!) I remember thinking back then that those years must have been so much easier for someone prettier, more comfortable in their own skin, more popular. Now, as an adult I’m sure we all felt awkward and had our challenges, even the popular crowd. I don’t think anyone at that age is a confident as they may appear. We all have our insecurities.
Although, it was hard to see it that way when I was one of those kids carrying their lunch tray around the crowded dining hall, looking for somewhere to sit which many times was by myself or with just a few other socially awkward people like myself. At least my sometimes lonesome lunchtime was made better by the fact that my high school had pretty good cafeteria food. That sounds like an oxymoron, “good cafeteria food” but it was. One of my favorite things was that they had churros! Cinnamon sugar-coated fried pastry. Heavenly! It always felt like a special treat since normally this was something only found at fairs.
This month, we’re trying to make our own churros at home. Fortunately, they were very easy to make! In fact, I came to discover that the process of making churro dough is the same as the process of making choux pastry. So making churros isn’t all “first” for us since we made choux pastry for eclairs not too long ago. With the challenge of making the pastry dough out of the way, it was on to the frying.
That part was not nearly as easy as I though it was going to be. I could not accomplish nice straight churros like the ones I’ve purchased in the past. I know each of those are made by a machine that ensures their perfection and uniformity but still, I expected to be able to achieve a straight line. How difficult could that possibly be? However, piping dough into hot oil is not as easy as one might think. Thus, leaving me with curled and curved churros.
But what they lack in visual appeal they certainly make up for in taste! The churros were crisp outside and soft inside. To the traditional churro pastry I added both lemon and orange zest as well as some cardamom. Once rolled in cinnamon sugar and sampled, you get just the hint of citrus which is oh so pleasing. Not that it should be any problem, but you should eat these as soon as possible. First, they’re incredible warm and second, if they sit longer than a day they become soggy. Soggy churros are just no good. So, eat up!
Now, on to next month. Why don’t you join us?? We’d love to have you! It’s tons of fun to try something new and connect with new people. Next month Carrie and I are going to do things just a little differently. Instead of giving you all a specific item to make, we would like for everyone to try to make their favorite candy. So there’s tons of freedom with this project! You could make your own Snickers bars, Twix, Twizzlers, gummy bears… whatever you want. Or maybe you want to make your favorite candy and then use it in something else entirely? Your imagination is your only limitation. We can’t wait to see what you choose to make!! I know my wheels are already turning.
Now go check out what the other First On The First people were up to this month!
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1 cup water
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup all-purpose flour
Canola oil, for frying
1/2 cup sugar
- In a medium saucepan, heat 1 cup water, the butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, both citrus zests and cardamom over medium-high heat until the edges of the liquid start to bubble.
- Add the flour all at once and stir briskly with a wooden spoon until well mixed and no lumps of flour remain.
- Remove from the heat. Add 4 of the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each. The dough should look soft and glossy and keep a “hook” shape when the spoon is pulled from the dough. If not, beat in the last egg.
- Scrape the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pour enough oil into a deep heavy skillet to fill 1-inch. Heat over medium heat until the tip of the handle of a wooden spoon gives off a slow steady stream of tiny bubbles.
- Carefully pipe the dough into the oil, forming 6-inch crullers. Pipe only as many crullers into the oil as fit comfortably. Overcrowding the pan will result in soggy crullers. Fry, turning once, until golden brown on each side. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Put the sugar and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a paper bag. Crimp the top and shake well to mix. Drop a few churros at a time into the bag and shake until coated.
Adapted from Cooking Channel