Donut Quest

When we visited Portland last year we went to Blue Star Donuts 3 times… in 2 days. On the way to the airport to fly home I begged Daniel to stop at Blue Star one last time. I bought half a dozen donuts and finished stuffing my face with them just as we made it to airport security (okay, Daniel might have eaten a couple too). I had never had donuts so good, and I was heartbroken to leave them on the west coast. So, I made the decision to do some serious donut testing to find the best donuts in the Raleigh area. Here are my results, listed from my most favorite to least favorite.

Monuts

Winner of the donut quest! Monuts had so many creative flavors, and the menu changes daily. They tasted as great as they looked. These donuts might even be better than Blue Star. The downside is that Monuts is more than an hour roundtrip drive from my house, so I’m not likely haul my donut craving butt all the way over there very often. Maybe that’s for the best though.

monuts donuts Durham NC

monuts donuts Durham NC

Duck Donuts

Duck Donuts is dangerous. It’s less than 10 minutes from my house and right next to the Post Office I frequent. Their donuts are really great, although you won’t find any super inventive flavor combinations (these aren’t hipster donuts). The novelty of Duck Donuts is that you choose your glaze and topping, and they make your donut fresh to order so it’s still warm when you take that first bite. Uhhh… yum! The donuts are a teeny tiny bit doughy/undercooked in the middle, but in a purposeful way that makes them unique.

Duck Donuts Cary NC

Krispy Kreme

No photo for Krispy Kreme—I didn’t revisit for my quest, since I’ve eaten tons of their donuts over the years. Krispy Kremes are not novelty donuts. You can buy them at every grocery store in the south, although they did originate here in North Carolina. However, if you drive past a Krispy Kreme location and the “hot donuts” sign is lit up, you have to go in for a couple plain glazed donuts hot off the conveyor belt. They’re addicting still warm from the frier and freshly glazed. Trust me. You’ll be surprised how many you can eat.

Rise

Pitiful presentation, sloppy frosting, and there were random blobs of icing from other donuts on my donuts. Rise’s donuts were stale and dense in a bad way. Not to mention they messed up my order and gave me two of the deformed boob-looking donuts. I did not order two of those. Humph. A lot of people rave about Rise’s donuts, but I wasn’t impressed. Sad, because the descriptions of their imaginative donut flavors sound delicious. Maybe they were having an off day. I’m willing to give them a chance to redeem themselves at some point, especially since they’re opening a location closer to me soon.

Rise donuts Durham NC

Donut quest complete! These are just the highlights. I tried some other places with run-of-the-mill donuts that weren’t really worth mentioning.

If you don’t have a favorite donut spot you have to do a donut quest in your area. It makes you feel productive while you’re eating donuts! This is how you try a bunch of donuts without feeling like a pig: Go to the next donut shop on your hit list, get a bunch of donuts, take a bite out of each one, finish your favorites, and give the rest away to your friends/family. They probably won’t mind the missing bite (Daniel didn’t). After all, you shouldn’t look a gift donut in the mouth.

Roasted Salsa

I had never tried making salsa before, and now that I have I don’t know how I’ll ever go back to store-bought. This roasted salsa recipe is phenomenal. It’s the best salsa I’ve ever had, and I’m sure the special trip I made to the farmers market for perfectly ripe tomatoes didn’t hurt. I loved that I could customize the heat level to the sweaty eyelid, drippy nose inducing level of spiciness I prefer. (Please tell me I’m not the only weirdo whose eyelids sweat while eating spicy foods.)

roasted salsa recipe

roasted salsa recipe

roasted salsa recipe

roasted salsa recipe

…and then I ate the entire bowl.

Oh, and don’t worry. The tomato cores didn’t go to waste.

roasted salsa recipe

8 tomatoes, quartered and cored
1 yellow onion, peeled and halved
12 serrano peppers, caps removed
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tablespoon salt (more or less to taste)
1 bunch cilantro, thick stems removed

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the tomatoes cut side up in a baking pan or on cookie sheet with a rim (they will ooze). Arrange the garlic cloves, peppers, and onion halves (cut side up) on the pan as well.

Roast until the onion starts to look translucent and the peppers are blackening. The original recipe said this would take 30–40 minutes, but I roasted mine for 1 hour 20 minutes before the onions finally seemed translucent-ish. Then I broiled everything for another 2 minutes at the end to char the peppers a little. So, you’ll have to keep an eye on it and go by feel on the roasting time.

Once roasted, let everything cool for a few minutes and give the garlic a squeeze to peel it. Then run all that roasty goodness and the cilantro through your food processor—adding peppers and salt to taste. If you put all 12 peppers in, it will be INSANELY hot. I ended up putting in 6 or 7 peppers to achieve the medium/hot heat level I like. When the salsa was done, I processed the remaining peppers separately and set them aside for Daniel to stir into his salsa as desired. He likes it super hot, and he’s so smug about it.

Eat it up with chips, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, or whatever other salsa-friendly foods you like. You can store the salsa in the fridge for a week. I’d imagine you could freeze too, but I haven’t tried it yet myself.

This recipe makes a lot of salsa—roughly a medium sized mixing bowl full.

Adapted from One Particular Kitchen’s salsa recipe.

Now & Then—The Yard

We bought our house 7 years ago, and it was kind of a fixer upper. It wasn’t horrible, but it was outdated and the yard was a mess. A lot of my earlier blog posts documented my home improvement projects. As much work as it was fixing up the inside of the house, working on the yard has been much harder. After 6 years of slow progress there’s finally a noticeable difference between when we moved in and now, so here are some before and afters (which are really “durings”, because it’s still a work in progress).

In the beginning our front yard looked like this (below). The previous owners told us they liked it “natural”, which was code for “a wreck” and entailed plenty of poison ivy and thorny brambles that were nearly impossible to pull out by hand. We hired a guy with a bulldozer to scrape up the “natural”, and we planted grass. The grass didn’t really grow due to the dense shade, so now we have a sparse moss/weed blend that we keep mowed short to somewhat resemble grass. Whatever, it’s better than poison ivy. I’m still waiting for the rhododendrons I planted along the foundation to fill out. You’re going to fill out, right guys?

Before (2009):

front yard, curb appeal, before after

After (2015):

front yard, curb appeal, before after

A couple years ago my parents helped us rent a tiller and prepare a big garden bed along the street (documented on my Dad’s blog—pardon my suspenders). We added a fence to keep it from becoming the neighborhood dog toilet, and I’m slowly filling it with the tangle of flowers I envisioned. This summer things are finally starting to fill out nicely. My goal is not to be able to see the ground due to all the flowers. Oh, and remember those trees I mentioned we were considering removing? We did it a few weeks ago! I like it so much better without them—no regrets. It’s like our house escaped tree trunk jail.

Before (2009):

front yard, curb appeal, before after

After (2015):

front yard, curb appeal, before after

So… I got distracted by this butterfly and took a million photos of it and forgot to take anymore “afters” of the yard, but surely you got the gist of it. I love butterflies. I’m such a girl like that.

front yard, curb appeal, before after

front yard, curb appeal, before after

Six Years of Wit & Whistle!

Today is Wit & Whistle’s sixth birthday! The last six years have flown by, and I’ve loved every minute. To celebrate you can use the coupon code SIXYEARS to take 15% off everything in the shop through the end of the day tomorrow. Thanks a million for sticking with me all this time—your friendship and support mean the world to me!

wit & whistle anniversary

(The coupon code is only valid for purchases made on witandwhistle.com, and the offer expires on Tuesday July 21st at 11:59pm EST.)

Let’s Talk About Wholesale

I know a bunch of you are fellow makers and small business owners, so let’s talk about wholesale for a minute. Do you sell your products to retailers? When I started Wit & Whistle I didn’t even consider selling wholesale, but one day a store wrote and asked for my catalog. I quickly googled “selling wholesale”, whipped up a makeshift catalog, and sent it over. Since then selling directly to stores has become a big part of my business.

I recently did an interview for One Woman Shop (along with Mei Pak and Jennifer Hill) about selling wholesale as a “solopreneur”. If you’d like to check it out, you can read the interview right here.

wit & whistle wholesale