Families come in many varieties. They don’t always include children and sometimes as in our case, they are simply a party of two. Just like the family you’re born into, the one you create comes with two sides and many facets. Mike and I are lucky that between the two of us we have five siblings, nine nieces and nephews, dozens of cousins, a bunch of aunts and uncles, a mom mom that lived to be 100 and some lovely additions through marriage and the like. We also have two loving and amazing moms and the memories of our wonderful dads who we miss every single day. I know we have so much to be thankful for and we certainly are, but sometimes I find myself lamenting the ones who are no longer here with us. When this happens, we turn to stories and memories.

I never met Mike’s dad Frank, but from the way Mike talks about him, I know we would have gotten along perfectly.  Even though growing up our moms cooked all of our meals, our dads had their moments in the kitchen too! I love the food stories of Frank. From late night cereal snacks to his special garlic bread with an unusual ingredient  to his mastery of breakfast, every day I see glimpses  of Frank through Mike.

If you’ve been reading along or following BBTK on Instagram, you’ll believe me when I tell you that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Like his dad before him, Mike is the breakfast maker in our tiny family. He has made me some of the most delicious breakfasts I’ve ever had. There isn’t a diner or famous brunch spot in all of NYC that can compare. Of course I might be a little biased. I imagine Mike’s dad being the same way.  A couple weeks ago in honor of his dad, Mike made one of the sweetest breakfast foods ever made in our tiny kitchen. After one of his usual breakfasts of my favorite dippy eggs and an assortment of sides, Mike made donuts, just like his dad used to do!

Mike is the perfect baker. With a discerning eye, meticulous method and extreme patience, he masters any recipe he attempts. In most cases, it’s up to him to research and recreate a recipe that was never written down in the first place. That’s exactly what he did in order to share with me the tradition of his dad’s donuts. He looked so happy as he made the dough, smiling and laughing to himself.  Once complete he set it aside to rest and rise, never rushing any steps.  Then he scoured the apartment for make-shift tools to give them their shape, finally deciding on a cocktail glass to shape the donuts and a shot glass to cut out the donut holes, before once again setting them aside to rest and rise for the last time. Next he set up the assembly line of cinnamon and sugar for dipping and a metal rack for cooling. Finally it was time to drop the sweet treats in hot oil and watch them sizzle to golden brown. Thoughtful and exacting, he didn’t miss a step.  Traits Mike inherited from his dad offer me insight into the man I never had an opportunity to meet.  All I can do is piece together stories and old photos to create a picture in my mind of his dad making donuts for Mike and his family so many years ago.

Although I know better than to long for a rewrite of history, I can’t help but wish that Mike and I were high school sweethearts. As I look at our siblings and their spouses, I’m reminded of how much Mike and I missed out on sharing with each other. I often daydream about how nice it would be to have shared in our respective family history and memories. Times past always feel like the good old days, and I know we remember them better than they really were, but it’s still tempting to reminisce. Nostalgia is sometimes bittersweet, but it’s those special moments in our past that help shape our present.  Mike and I are incredibly lucky to bring each other such wonderful family stories and traditions. We may have to rely on stories to share our past, but our present is rich because of it.

For a sweet treat check out our donut recipe!