Meet the Chef: Emily Miner and Thelma’s Bread Dough
If it can be wrapped in dough and fried, Emily Miner has probably already done it.
“We try everything, and if it blows up in the fryer, we just take it out real quick,” she said during a short break at Field Days last week.
Miner, 34, is the owner of Thelma’s, a mobile food truck that was born in 1979 when her grandma Thelma Miner walked into the Addison County Fair and Field Days with her own cart and a recipe for fried bread dough with maple cream.
“The recipe was always just in my head, and now I guess it’s in her head,” said Thelma Miner, now 86. “It’s the same bread, all homemade. Nothing bought or frozen. It’s always fresh.”
Emily Miner took over the family business — based in their hometown of Brandon — eight years ago. Three years later, she returned to Field Days with a new truck and an expanded menu.
“It’s fun to experiment,” she said. “And my Gram’s great because she’s so excited about different things I do.”
The original Thelma’s menu included the fried bread dough, maple cream and the “doh dog,” a hotdog wrapped in bread dough and fried.
These days, the menu also boasts a bacon cheddar “doh pocket,” a “doh dog” with bacon and cheddar added in, and a “snick snack,” a Snickers given the Thelma’s treatment — wrapped in dough and fried.
And that’s a limited menu, due to restrictions on vendors at Field Days.
Miner also rolls her Thelma’s food truck into music festivals, weddings and other events around the state.
Outside of Field Days, she’s started serving a grilled version of the bread dough and the “Happy Hippie,” a breakfast sandwich featuring a fried egg, bacon, cheddar cheese and garlic pesto. The sandwich is, of course, wrapped in dough and fried.
While the signs outside of Thelma’s and the chairs in the “Dohasis” — a shady oasis for hungry visitors — are all original from her grandma’s cart, the Thelma’s truck of today is a repurposed Addison County Regional Transit bus. Emily painted and decorated it to replicate the original Thelma’s cart.
Emily is developing Thelma’s and serving up fried dough to customers in her spare time. Otherwise, she works as a personal trainer and membership director at Middlebury Fitness.
“There’s a balance,” she explained. “Thelma’s is in my blood, and training gets me physically well to do what I do here.”
And she’s doing it well. As we sat in the Dohasis at the fairgrounds one afternoon last week, Doug Tolles and his daughter, Grace, walked in.
“These are my groupies,” Miner said of the two.
And it was clear they are groupies as they described one summer when they limited their diet to Thelma’s for a few days.
“We had you for breakfast and dinner,” exclaimed Tolles. “I lost three pounds on the Thelma’s diet. Because that’s all I ate!”
TO MAKE YOUR own maple cream, follow this recipe. Although it’s not nearly as good as Thelma’s, we hope it will do.
3 cups 100% pure maple syrup (grade A light amber makes for the best cream)
¼ teaspoon cream or vegetable oil, optional
1. Place a medium saucepan in an ice bath and set aside.
2. Combine the syrup and oil/cream in a second medium saucepan (with sides high enough to catch any syrup as it will bubble and rise when boiling). Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 235 degrees (about 16-18 minutes).
3. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into the iced saucepan. Let cool, without stirring, until the syrup is 100 degrees (about 15 minutes).
4. Remove the saucepan from the ice bath and stir the syrup vigorously with a wooden spoon until it turns thick, pale and opaque (about 30 minutes). Alternatively, pour the syrup into a stand mixer (stainless steel only) and with the paddle attachment, stir syrup on the lowest setting until thick, pale and opaque.
5. Pour the cream into a tightly capped jar, and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
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