Monday, October 4, 2010

Big Balloons and Fresh Donuts

   We went en famille to the Balloon Glow last night in Albuquerque. All the hot air balloons are tethered in the field and we walked through these giants that light up intermittently as the pilots shoot the flames of the burner to keep them filled. Every October balloonists from around the world come and fill the skies each morning with color and huge bees, clown heads, cows, witches-just about every shape you can imagine.At night they do spectacular fireworks and have stalls set up with fair food and drink. Django's favorite
is the freshly fried potato chips that they make mysteriously ( to me) with a single potato, a drill and a blade. It comes out like Pierrrot's ruffle, all attached ,and is given to you on a paper plate. The fact that its all attached makes it literally impossible to just take one so our competitiveness and greediness made it disappear instantly as we stood there under the darkening sky.
Each balloon has a chase crew: a car filled with volunteers who follow from the ground and pick up the balloons and their passengers. The cars are decorated to match the balloon and the crews seem to have a kind of fireman-like focus and sense of urgency. It feels to me as if they're a special tribe just that much more willing to take risks than the rest of us. Many times the balloons put down in Corrales and since they only have a certain amount of control over where they land, they end up in fields, occasionally in trees, and last year, in our frontyard. The timing was so good it almost seemed ridiculous. I had taken the boys to school and came home to practice my donut making. They are simple to make, but my impatience always causes me to rush the heating of the oil which of course ruins the donut.( Although I will admit to you I love them even soaked with oil). As I was tossing them in cinnamon sugar, I heard the dogs barking and went outside to witness the bumpy arrival of a balloon practically at our front step. I ran back and piled my donuts in a platter and returned offering my surprise visitors coffee and freshly made donuts. They must have thought Corrales quite the hospitable place, with homeowners preparing just -baked goods on the off chance a balloon lands in their yard!
They came into the house and had coffee and donuts and when I asked them where they were from and they replied "Kansas" I thought they were kidding me. They weren't. Although we are no Emerald City, I think I would prefer what these travelers got: delicious donuts and a dashing chase crew to pick them up.

This recipe is from Jean Hewitt

                                          Massachusetts Doughnuts

                         3 eggs
                         1 cup granulated sugar
                         1 cup sour cream
                         4 cups flour
                        1/2 teaspoon each of baking soda and salt
                        1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
                        1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg
                        Vegetable oil for deep frying

1. Beat eggs till thickGradually beat in sugar. Stir in the sour cream.
2. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon and stir to make a soft dough..
3. Roll out the dough to one half inch thickness on a lightly floured board and cut with a doughnut cutter. [ or improvise with whats on hand- a big and a small jar top, well washed will do fine.]
4.Heat the oil to 375 and fry a few at a time till golden, turning once. Drain on paper towels.

Now at this point, Jean suggests rolling them in powdered sugar- of course, delicious. But I love the tast of sugar blended with cinnamon and a touch of instant powdered cider. Take it easy with it and add the cider powder slowly as it gets intense very quickly, but it adds a good zing.


  1. They didn't mean the balloon had flown all the way from Kansas, I assume. Right?

    Also a faster way to make donuts is to twist them, then they turn themselves over- supposedly. Hole in the middle donuts just seem to take longer all around.

  2. Dogs and doors and good timing! lol!

    I once was given the task to go and knock on the front door at my grandmother's house so that the dog would bark and the person who was talking on the phone would finally leave her alone. (Because of course Grandma would say, "There's someone at the door, I've got to go.") I knocked on the door, Deanna started barking... and a man on the OUTSIDE of the door put his hand down from where he was JUST about to knock on it, turned around very slowly and walked away! Just someone trying to sell something, so we didn't call him back to ask him what he wanted, but he never did come to the house again!

    And you know, I never said it, but if you need any supplies from Biltmore for that Biltmore book, let me know. I'll get together a care package and send it on. But I'm just as sure you'll work out your own substitutes.

  3. I remember seeing hot-air balloons fly over the place where I worked (part-time while attending AIFL) when living in Fort Lauderdale some 20-odd years ago. They used to fly by every morning around 8 AM. This was a little north of Ft. Laud up near Lauderhill (I believe there was a 'regional' airport near by in Oakland Park).

    No balloons here in Jacksonville, but there is the MetLife blimp (I live close to Craig Airport in East Arlington - maybe Matt remembers this) that flies over my house to/from Everbank Field (formerly Gator Bowl/Jacksonville Municipal Stadium/Alltel Stadium) for football games. I don't mind flying in airliners, but if it's a windy day and I'm in one of those blimps I'm airsick in no time. *g*

    Mirrani, BTW - wonderful wedding!! Hope the photos came out well..


  4. I remember having the same someone's- at- the- door routine with my mother!And Bob- you've flown in a blimp?? i always wondered what that would be like. Since I get airsick in a swing, I don't think I'll be finding out firsthand.
    Mirrani- I saw some of the pictures from your wedding and it was truly beautiful

  5. Nana - no I never rode in a blimp but whenever I seen the MetLife blimp fly over my house on Sundays where there are Jaguars (NFL) home-games it's always swaying up & down, left & right with the wind. yecch...

    I nearly got airsick in that small jet flying into Albuquerque that one time in '06 (pretty bumpy going over those mountains in the descent). I can only imagine what it must feel like in that blimp (and it's a relatively small one compared to the Goodyear Blimp based down in Ft. Lauderdale).

    Me & Judy shot the wedding photos in that Picasa album - there were also images by Mirrani's uncle but Mir has those. I also have a bunch of Biltmore (mansion & gardens) images in another album if interested..


  6. I've always thought riding in a balloon might be somewhat like sailing. You're moving and enjoying nature around you, but without the motor sounds we are all used to in our time.

    In fact, it's always the quietness peacefulness that makes me just let out a big sigh. I think it allows you to more be a part of the environment.

    On another note: what a great blog! Great writing, great recipes, and interesting comments from all over!

  7. I forgot: A balloon landing in your front yard, and the occupants are from Kansas?? What a great story!

  8. I hope I am doing this right, I have only ever "blogged" once much for swearing I'd never blog! (At least, to date anyway, I've avoided twitter and facebook!)

    It was suggested I pay this blog a visit by Kim and it was a good idea as I found this recipe! Now to get my wife to help me make them :)
    It's either that or order more goodies from Un Petit Morceau!