INGENUITY

Last evening I went to the Pacific National Exhibition, which is a local fair that has rides, food vendors, a marketplace, and an animal exhibit (featuring mostly farm animals). In 2020, the PNE was not held because of the pandemic. This year, it is proceeding but with a smaller scale and limited capacity.

I’d say that 90% of the fair is outdoors, so it’s fairly safe thing to go to. When I arrived, I was pleased to see the crowds were very reasonable. In past years, PNE organizers were able to cram so many people in that it would be wall-to-wall people on the fairgrounds, the exact opposite of what you want during a pandemic. This was not the case last night. It was very easy to social distance and many people were wearing masks, even outdoors. It felt very comfortable.

I went mostly for the food and by the end of the evening, I bought a bucket of mini-doughnuts for the trip home. Now this wasn’t the first time I’ve brought home mini-doughnuts. From past experience, I know that these doughnuts taste great when fresh. They are warm, moist, and soft, a sugary delight for all. When you take them home, however, they get hard and dry. The next day, the easiest thing to do to warm them up is to either microwave them or bake them in the toaster oven. While this might get them warm again, it just makes them even drier.

This year, I was determined to keep them delicious, even on the next day. To start, I stored them in a airtight container. I have these plastic containers that I can use a hand pump on that removes all the air from inside. I am able to keep food much longer using these containers. Storing the doughnuts prevents them from drying out too much.

Ok, so sure, they won’t be that dry the next day but how do I heat them up again? I can go the oven or microwave route but both those solutions involves drying out the doughnuts. I settled on steam, it can heat but not dry out the food you’re trying to heat. The only problem was how to let the steam heat the doughnuts but not get them excessively wet. When I steam stuff, I use a medium-sized pot, throw my food into a bowl, and put the bowl into the pot. Condensation forms on bottom of the pot lid and drips into the bowl. This might be ok for dumplings and stuff but having water drip onto the doughnuts would just make them soggy.

So how do I allow the steam to circulate around the doughnuts in the bowl but not get them showered with water? I immediately thought of cheesecloth but I didn’t have any. I settled on a sheet of paper towel on top of the bowl, sealed into place with a rubber band. This worked flawlessly. I steamed the doughnuts for about five minutes. The paper towel absorbed all the excess water but still allowed the steam to heat and moisturize the doughnuts. They tasted just like they did last night.

I did all that work to get more fat.

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