I almost titled this post “Christmas in November,” but if you’ve gone anywhere near a retail location in the past week, you really don’t need a reminder that apparently Christmas now immediately follows Halloween. (Try explaining to a three-year-old that we still have quite a ways to go until December 25 when you have reminders everywhere!)
Anyhow, I guess when it rains it pours, like last year when we replaced our toaster and toaster oven at the same time.
The current small appliance extravaganza started with a new food processor, a decision that’s been a long time coming. For the last ten years, I’ve been using a basic Black & Decker food processor. I don’t use it all that often, but given the usual life span of such things, I honestly expected it to die a long time ago. I’ve started making cashew butter fairly regularly (unlike peanut butter, I can make cashew butter cheaper than I can buy it), plus the occasional batch of sunflower seed butter. It also gets some use making hummus and veggie burgers, as well as pureeing squash. And it just keeps chugging.
The problem is not really one of aging, but a design issue. The basic blend/process feature works fine, but the slicing/shredding blade is basically worthless. We’ve lived without this feature for quite awhile, making slaw, kraut, and potato pancakes the old-school way, thinking eventually the motor would die and we’d upgrade, but the darn thing just keeps on kicking. With plans to make a big batch of kraut (and after having recently made a big batch of root veggie pancakes, with only a little bit of shredded finger included), Matthew made the call to upgrade.
After consulting Consumer Reports, we settled on a Cuisine Art. I must say, I was a bit underwhelmed when we took it out of the box. Other than having a stainless steel base, it looked a lot like the Black & Decker — was it really worth 3-4 times as much?
Then Matthew tried slicing some chunks of cabbage and you guys! Magic! Beautifully shredded cabbage with the press of a button and really quiet (not whisper quiet, but quiet enough that I’m okay running it in our apartment after G’s in bed, which says a lot! In comparison, I probably should have worn hearing protection when using the old food processor). Anyhow, seeing is believing — this seems like a good purchase. If it stands the test of time and I’m using it 10+ years from now, then we’re really golden!
Gabriel is starting to get really squirrelly when the camera comes out, but he actually asked to be in this picture — future small appliance model?
No sooner had Matthew brought up getting a new food processor than our electric [hand-held] mixer began to die. It will still, sometimes, function on the lowest speed, but that’s all we can get out of it.
We again turned to Consumer Reports and selected a fairly basic Kitchen Aid model (i.e., not the most expensive one that comes with all of the accessories). I don’t expect this to be a major upgrade over what we had, but something that works will be nice.
This time last year, I borrowed my friend Kelly’s electric grain mill to mill our corn. We really enjoyed using our home-grown corn meal and flour in corn bread and baked goods throughout the year. Since it’s something we plan to continue growing, it [kind-of] makes sense to have our own mill (really, it would make the most sense to have one mill to share in some kind of neighborhood group, but since we don’t have that kind of set up . . . ).
Matthew found this grain milling attachment for our stand mixer. I’m interested in seeing how it compares to the electric mill, which worked well, but, even on the coarsest setting, produced a corn “meal” that was more flour than meal (okay for some things, but really too fine for polenta and corn bread — we used our home-grown in combination with store-bought to get the right texture for those items). The attachment takes up much less space than Kelly’s stand-alone grain mill, so that’s another plus.
And that’s a wrap on our purchases to date. It seems a little extravagant, but we spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and having these tools does make cooking from scratch easier. The kitchen is definitely where I would have the most difficulty being a minimalist!
I’ll write more about the grain mill after we’ve taken it for a few spins (if it doesn’t work well, we’ll return it). I’m considering a soy milk maker, but I want to do a bit more research, including borrowing a friend’s machine to get a feel for the process and to make sure the product is something I want to consume.