I promised one post per month, and this one is going to be a tough one. Last week we said goodbye to my cat of 14 years, Danjumbo. I feel obligated to note her passing here, obviously, because my website is named after her. She also never got quite the danjumbo.com coverage that she probably deserved, and so I would like to say more than a few words about her here before getting to the February food review.
Even if you hate cats, I can assure you that you still might have loved Danjumbo if you had met her. Jum was quite possibly the sweetest and kindest living creature I have ever encountered on this planet. When she was scared or nervous she purred, and if you were doing something annoying she would angrily…lick you. I mean, she also purred when she was happy and she licked pretty much everything all the time…
…but my point here is that I don’t think she has ever expressed any hostility toward any human, ever. Everyone who ever met her loved her, and you would have too. Deal with it.
Fourteen years ago when my sister and I were roommates, we originally adopted Danjumbo along with Elphie. Elphie was another kindhearted beauty who, sadly, also passed away in this past year. Danjumbo and Elphie were inseparable and adorable. Just look:
They are probably chilling like that together somewhere in Cat Heaven right now, if you believe in that sort of thing.
As life moved on I moved in with my future wife and her cat Ezra, and my sister and I split up our two cats. Jums wound up with me because she was tougher and could hold her own with the wildly aggressive Ezra better than timid Elphie could.
(although you probably wouldn’t think so from this gif)
Ez and Jum battled a lot at first, and I have been known to perpetuate a longstanding narrative that they hated each other. In reality, over the course of 10 years they grew to be best pals.
I truly believe that she was solely responsible for softening his rough edges, minimizing his worst tendencies, and even teaching him how to purr.
A few years ago we first realized Danjumbo was sick and starting to lose weight because Ezra began patiently waiting to start eating his dinner until she was finished. I probably don’t need to tell readers of this blog that this sort of behavior caught our attention immediately.
Ez, my wife and I were all enamored with Danjumbo, and we miss her terribly.
Danjumbo was magic
There was something about Danjumbo, to me, that always seemed a bit larger than life.
- When we adopted her, she first got my attention in a shelter full of cats by reaching through the bars of her cage and tapping me on the shoulder as I passed by.
- She had a 3.5+-foot vertical jump we described as “spring loaded.”
- She was SO SOFT. It did not seem possible for a cat to be so soft.
- She used different actions and vocalizations when she wanted to communicate different things. For example, “mow wow” meant “I need your attention right fucking now, this is important.” Placing a newspaper, magazine, or, in one instance, an uncashed paycheck on the floor beside our bed and methodically tearing it up a-la Craig Toomey meant “my food bowl is empty and for some reason you are sleeping, please correct this.”
- While she was always loving, annoyances were generally met with a facial expression that we called “Flatmouth.”
To us, Flatmouth usually said “I am not mad at you, just disappointed.”
“Shape up and get your shit together. You’re better than this.” – Flatmouth
“I can’t make you believe in yourself. I can only show you the path and hope you continue down it.” – Flatmouth
“You can get the same point across without all the cursing.” – Flatmouth
“You’re probably going to regret that tomorrow.” – Flatmouth
- She once took a paper bag containing empty shoeboxes and turned it into a cat sofa. I REPEAT, SHE CRAFTED A CAT SOFA.
All that aside, our most memorable “holy shit what the fuck is up with this magical cat” moment was when Ezra (who, if you have not met him, has a 420° triangularly-curled tail that we call his Nub) became entangled in a stringed feather cat toy. We make every effort to avoid this, but coathangers and twisted paper handles are a part of life and Nubcidents do still occur from time to time.
When something gets caught in Ezra’s Nub, he freaks out and runs around in a terrified rage making godawful noises. If you are a human, extracting an item from the Nub generally requires two people, each donning a few layers of PPE.
Well, on this occasion, Jumji ran right over to him, whipped her little paws around his Nub like some kind of feline ninja, and within about 3 seconds she had him untangled. I still don’t know how she did this. SHE DID NOT HAVE OPPOSABLE THUMBS.
Plus, that sort of speed and dexterity implied she probably had prior practice. My wife and I work very long hours. How many times over their 10 years living together did she save him from himself? Should we even be leaving him home alone right now? I’m stressed out just thinking about it.
Any time Ezra howled in pain or fear or boredom, Danjambles’ immediate reaction was not to run away, but to bolt over to him to try to help. This was Jummy Jam in a nutshell.
Danjumbo was such a force of good and kindness in our lives that our atheist/agnostic household’s version of “thoughts and prayers” was asking Danny-J to send “Jummy Vibes” into the universe when loved ones were struggling or in pain. If you are a friend or family to us and have gone through a rough spot, chances are you have had Jummy Vibes sent your way. I hope they helped.
About those donuts…
Danjumbo had a complete obsession with three things: cardboard boxes, licking our Christmas tree (vide supra), and as I will soon get to, Country Kitchen Donuts.
But first, the cardboard boxes. I know, I know. “Lots of cats love cardboard boxes,” you are saying, “there is nothing special about your cat loving cardboard boxes.”
Lastly, before we get to the donuts, because I know you are wondering, my sister and I named Danjumbo after the impossibly handsome British Nigerian carpenter Andrew Dan Jumbo of the TLC classic reality home improvement series from the aughts called “While You Were Out.” Just take a second to look at him and then try not to name your next cat or firstborn child after him:
If you are not familiar with “While You Were Out,” it was sort of like Trading Spaces, except instead of passive-aggressively destroying their neighbor’s living spaces with particle board built-ins and burlap wall treatments, the people on While You Were Out did this TO THEIR OWN (purported) LOVE ONES in THEIR OWN HOMES. It was an incredible show and I would pay great sums to access it on DVD or Amazon streaming. Do you hear that, Amazon? Also, Filthy Rich Cattle Drive. I need it. Where is it?
Andrew Dan Jumbo created this atrocity in someone’s garage
Now, really, I promise, the donuts
Anyways, Danjumbo, much like her namesake, was a magestic beauty, and I am shamelessly filling this post with pictures of her because I do regret that she did not receive a proportional share of attention on this blog.
Ezra is featured frequently, because this is a food blog and Ezra is an incurable food addict. Keeping Ezra away from our meals is a constant and unending battle, and he basically inserts himself in every Curious Shopper tasting, whether I want him to or not. His desire to steal food often eclipses his own intelligence; anticipating our discipline he will often pre-emptively growl at us as he licks whatever bits or crumbs he has found left on a plate. Eating and growling simultaneously, the sound comes out as a loud “NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM,” alerting us to misbehavior that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. He is so dumb, this guy.
Jummish, on the other hand, was far more intelligent and had a more discriminating palate, focused mainly on foods that were actually intended for cats. She had an impressive ability to open any sealed food or treat bag. These had to be aggressively hidden – more than once Ezra stole Greenie bags from the top of the fridge or a high shelf to lay in front of Dannity-Jane for dissection (teamwork makes the dream work).
Jumbity’s interest in human food, on the other hand, was fairly limited. She did occasionally try to steal pepperoni or salami – the yin to cheeseloving Ezra’s yang. Outside of charcuterie, the one, single human food item that Dannish von Jumbypants went completely bonkers for was Country Kitchen Donuts.
You may be fully familiar with Country Kitchen Donuts, and even if you are not I realize that on first glance you might not think they are very strange. You will just have to believe me that there is nothing weirder than having an otherwise totally-uninterested-in-human-food cat run in from the other room and aggressively climb up on your shoulders because she heard and/or smelled you opening the plastic wrapper on a particular brand of donut. She would literally try to intercept a Country Kitchen donut on its way into your mouth. She was fucking nuts for these donuts.
So, for my February post, I am going to review Country Kitchen donuts here, in Princess Jum’s honor:
Country Kitchen Classic Plain Donuts
Sweetie Jum and I agree that Country Kitchen Donuts are fucking delicious. Donuts in general are obviously really delicious, but I am personally not crazy about the prepackaged store-bought kinds. Store-bought donuts are often dry and mealy and encapsulated with either a brown polymer coating or some form of choking powder.
I mean, if some alien species were to visit this planet and encounter Hostess powdered sugar mini donuts in nature, I would certainly think that they would at least entertain the hypothesis that the donuts are living creatures and that their coating is an evolved defense mechanism. I am not really excited about anything that requires me to actively stifle my breathing as I eat it.
Country Kitchen does offer both sugar and cinnamon choking powder donuts in their repertoire, but the star in their lineup is definitely the Classic Plain.
First off, it does not taste like a donut. It tastes way better than a donut. It’s technically a cake donut, but it’s neither sickeningly dense nor sugar glazed. There is something familiar about the texture and flavor that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I believe it’s somewhere in the family of really good supermarket muffins. Do you feel me? It’s like a Costco muffin but it’s in a donut shape, and it’s fried.
If you look closely it’s soaked about 1/4″ deep with oil, and that oil stays right fucking there because each donut is individually wrapped in plastic.
Fuck, these donuts are so good. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you try them. Danjumbo had excellent taste.