the relief sale donuts of 2018


I have a love-hate relationship with this whole donut operation thing. The hardest part is the anticipation of it. Or maybe “the dreading of it” would be a more accurate term.

For weeks, the event hangs over my head like a French guillotine. The all-nighter, the loooong stretch of monofocus. The noise, the people, the grease. All the details to keep straight: Who is driving what car and when, the volunteers to be lined up and the items to purchase, calculations to figure, notes to read and re-read and re-re-read. In the final days leading up to the sale, I feel like I’m grinding down into low gear, my body going rigid as I brace for impact.

This year I was terribly tired before I even started (I tried to sleep a little on Friday night but I only dozed briefly before finally giving up), and, let me tell you, it’s horrible to be dog tired and yet be up against once of the longest and hardest days of work of your entire year.

Then again, it’s not that horrible. Because by that point there’s really nothing to be done but cry a little, tell your husband through clenched teeth that you will never EVER do this again, drink a coffee, and then get on with it.

And the funny thing was, once we got to work (at 12:30 in the morning), I began to enjoy myself. Like, REALLY enjoy myself. Which leaves me wondering how it is that I can go from utterly loathing something to thoroughly enjoying it?

My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t worry about the relief sale at all. Instead, he gets excited and weirdly happy.

What happens when he sticks his nose in my business: A MESS.

And then when it’s upon us, he works harder and longer than I ever could and has a rip-roaring fun time doing it, too. I don’t think we could be more different if we tried. (The older two kids love it, too, and they claim they want to be in charge completely next year.)

A few highlights from this year:

My husband’s brother and his three girls traveled down from Upstate New York, dragging their camper behind them. They arrived at the sale about the same time we did and spent their whole weekend working right alongside us.

This year, I took more time to actually coach the volunteers. For example, if someone was new to the dough-rolling process, instead of explaining and then walking away, I stood beside them, pointing out problem spots and giving hands-on demonstrations. I was impressed on two accounts:

1) how receptive and appreciative the volunteers were to input (because I’m always afraid I’m going to offend someone), and
2) how much more uniform the donuts were.

Quality Control!
I also made a much bigger deal about quality control and how to do it. I’d tell the volunteers, YOU are in charge of quality control. It’s YOUR job to check and double-check the product when it arrives at your station.

For example…
*Dough mixers make sure the milk-potato mixture is hot enough and that the potatoes are thoroughly blended.
*Dough-room people make sure the dough is neither too sticky nor two dry.
*Tray-fillers check for donut size, discarding the ones that are too skinny or too fat.
*Tray-runners double check donut size and make sure the trays have been properly filled.
*Glazers set aside donuts that are too dark or too light, or that got mangled in the fryers.

And everyone rose to the occasion! It was so fun watching the volunteers take ownership, especially when it was an assertive wee-spright of a lass keeping tabs on a Mennonite lady.

Made me chuckle, it did.

This year’s process was the smoothest yet. Aside from being short three bags of mashed potatoes (our church’s senior group mashed all 180 pounds of the potatoes I’d given them, but I should’ve ordered 200 pounds, I guess), everything went swimmingly.

more space equals drier donuts: improving the system

We turned all the dough into donuts (except for one bucket of dough that got skipped over in the proofing room and then fermented — drunk donuts anyone?), used up all but about a couple inches of glaze, and sold out completely. And we kept an official tally so for the first time we actually know how many donuts we made: sixteen thousand, seven hundred and forty, ba-BAM.

In other news, Chiro, Lery, and Demeric made (nearly) six hundred pinchos! Even with a late start and inadequate grills — one didn’t show and another didn’t work right so mid-morning my older two kids had to take leave of the donuts and run home to fetch our grill — the pinchos were a smash hit.

The line was crazy long (Lery said it made her feel panicky so she avoided looking at it), and they sold out completely. To top it all off, they managed to do some fantastic PR (ha! PR for PR, get it?) for MDS. (Currently taking volunteers for the upcoming winter! Sign up here!)

They even made the paper!

And then they came home, cleaned up, and, at nine o’clock, left for DC where — GET THIS — they proceeded to rent bikes and spend the entire night biking around the city before finally, in the early morning hours, making their way to the airport and flying home, crazy-azy-AZY Borinqueños!

Me, on the other hand?

Saturday, 1:13 P.M. 

The end.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (10.10.17), the quotidian (10.10.16), salted caramel ice cream, it’s for real, clouds, party on, the quotidian (10.10.11), what we came up with, green soup with ginger.


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