Sometimes I have to admit I was wrong about something. Naturally, that hardly ever happens. But when it does, I’m quite prepared to apologise & set the record straight. So here goes: I was wrong about food mixer/processors.
For quite some time now I have maintained that they are a giant waste of space & money. The last one I had, a big Magimix, I freecycled a few years ago and haven’t missed at all. As we no longer have a dishwasher (and in fact the components couldn’t be put in a dishwasher anyway) I felt it just transferred the work from one side of the meal to the other; instead of spending half an hour chopping, slicing & mixing before the meal, we spent half an hour trying to wash dried-on food scraps out of the more inaccessible corners of the thing after the meal. Also I couldn’t “feel” the food; my hands give me the best indication of when a dough, pastry or a crumble is ready. You can actually feel the texture change as the ingredients meld into something new. The Magimix speeded all the boring stuff up, but made it impossible to catch that magic moment when it’s ready but not overprocessed.
But last weekend a friend who brought up a big family then went on to run a Bed & Breakfast establishment asked whether I’d like her old Kenwood Chef. “It’s not even in a fit state to Freecycle, but it’d be such a shame just to take it to the Tip,” she warned me. Remembering other good cooks I’ve known who have sworn by these sturdy old workhorses, and that my older daughter & her friend make cupcakes to die for & that would undoubtedly sell like – well, hot cakes – if they ever made enough of them, I said we’d be delighted to try it out. So her husband brought it round at the start of the week. It cleaned up very nicely, but I was too busy to play with it until yesterday. And now, all I can say is a huge thank you to Ruth & Richard; truly a magnificent gift!
Two large loaves of bread, a batch of meringues, a raspberry clafoutis and some scrumptious peanut butter cookies later, I can vouch for the fact that this thing does actually save a lot of time & effort, and does the job really well. It’s a whole lot slower than the Magimix, and that’s an attribute I appreciate now; I have time to judge when things are ready. I think it’s also more thorough, and much easier to wash up. There’s enough capacity to cook-and-freeze, even in a large household situation. If I ever wanted to, there are all sorts of attachments & accoutrements I could buy to add on to it, but I’ll stick to the basic functions for now & see what time & trial & error bring up.
The main drawback that I can see is that it’s really heavy, being mostly metal; luckily I have some workspace free in my new-look utility room that it can live & be used on, because if it had to go back in a cupboard after use, it wouldn’t come out again in a hurry! But although by & large I am getting rid of kitchenware & gadgets that don’t earn the space they take up, I think this one will well & truly justify sacrificing a bit of clear space for.
So there you go! I was absolutely wrong to insist that gadgets hardly ever make life any easier. The right gadget, in the right situation, can indeed make a difference. So for anyone who has a large & hungry household to cater for, and enough space to house one, I can heartily recommend the Kenwood Chef, even if I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend actually going out & buying one!