Thursday, July 28, 2005
Big, no HUGE Baking News
I have had my eye on one of these babies for years now. Many of my friends, lucky ducks that they are, got them as wedding presents, and now they sit on their counters, looking beautiful and pristine. They use it about once a year, if that, to make Christmas cookies. "I don't bake much," my friends say. "I never use it." And inevitably, "Since you bake so much, I'm surprised you don't have one." Uh huh.
I do bake a lot. And cook a lot. I bake and cook more than anyone else in my circle of friends/family/acquaintances (which obviously and sadly includes no professional chefs). But alas, the wedding registry option had not yet arisen for me. And these machines start at about $200. While that isn't going to cause me to take out a loan, it seems extravagant. I have a perfectly good hand mixer, and I can deal with standing over a bowl for a few minutes. I can stop the hand mixer, set it down, and add eggs. Why would I really need one, outside of the convenience and authentic-baker-status factor? I put my mom on alert if she saw one at a garage sale as she is a pro at these, but both of us knew not to hold our breath for one to appear. (Although I got a great ice cream maker for $5 this way).
As I have pondered the machine over the years, I debated for a while about the merits of a standing mixer vs. a food processor. Apparently bread-making is one reason for getting a machine to help out, as the old fashioned kneading thing does not always yield the results that you can from a machine. It turns out you can knead bread in either a standing mixer or a food processor. Plus food processors offer all those wonderful crust making options, not to mention slicing and dicing. So for my 30th birthday, I requested the food processor. And I love it. I use it constantly. And it works pretty well for kneading bread, although it has become obvious that a standing mixer would work better; the processor gets heated up and obviously annoyed with me when I try to do breads in it. Dough gets stuck under the blade, the machine slows down, it rocks and growls at me, etc. Nobody is happy when this happens, so I avoid making bread. The standing mixer itch was not going away.
Finally, things came to a head. I am a big fan of chowhound.com and someone posted that KitchenAid mixers were on sale for $99 at amazon.com. Wow. I'd been eyeballing a few sales that went as low as $120, as well as factory reconditioneds for $150, but I just wasn't ready to take the plunge. But $99, and then $70 when you sign up for their card, well. Wow.
Secondly, as I was pondering this option, last weekend I had a large group of folks over for drinks and dessert. I decided to make 3 desserts in one afternoon. This was one of my most ambitious baking days ever (and did I mention the 90 degree heat?). The goal was to bake as many of them at the same time as possible, in order to use the 350 degree oven as little as possible. And while I pulled it off nicely (blondies, upside down pineapple cake, and Robert Redford -- more on this later), if I'd had the mixer, things would have been much simpler and less stressful.
So I did it. At $70 (free shipping plus a $20 future coupon!), that is the cheapest I'll ever see it new. It is on its way, to arrive the first week of August. Now I'm trying to decide if I should save it for my birthday or something, or if it will be totally irresistible to open and use right away. I know it's silly, but this machine is a real treasure to me -- a sign of taking my cooking interests seriously, physical evidence that my life is not on hold while waiting to get the free shopping spree along with Mr. Someday-My-Prince.
Ok. So it's big news for me. Maybe not a small step forward for peoplekind, but a small step forward for me in letting myself love what I love, to paraphrase Mary Oliver. Just you wait til you see what I cook up!
By the way, this is my first attempt at posting an photo from someone else's website. It may be totally against some copyright dealie, but since I'm pretty much promoting a sale at Amazon, I can't imagine this will make them too upset.