When my son was school aged and always hungry, I cooked for survival. I put a bowl of strawberry oatmeal from a little packet in front of him for breakfast while I filled his Transformer lunchbox with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, mandarin oranges, Cheetos, and a Little Debby apple turnover. After working hard for my money for eight hours or so, I would come home to make something reasonably palatable for dinner, something he wouldn’t push around with his fork until I finally excused him from the table.
After he left for college, I started convincing myself that cooking was fun. I watched Food Network shows that had started appearing in the early- to mid-90s, and the featured chefs made cooking look like so much FUN. “BAM,” Emeril Lagasse would say as he threw the garlic and hot sauce into whatever meal he was making.
I could do all of that, I thought. I just needed all of the necessary equipment. I needed a Le Creuset enamel-coated Dutch oven. I needed a Cuisinart food processor and a Cuisinart immersion blender. I needed to grind my own coffee beans. I needed a fancy decanter into which I would decant my expensive wines after which I would pour the wine into expensive glasses that would allow the wine to aerate as I swirled the wine, checking its legs.
And I certainly needed a Kitchenaid mixer. That was the most important thing. I needed a Kitchenaid mixer with a dough hook so that I could make all of my bread from scratch. My kitchen would always smell l like yeast.
And now, here I am, much older, a bit wiser, and trying to figure out what to do with most of the crap I bought in the 1990s. It didn’t take me long to figure out that when you spend $7.99 on a bottle of wine, there is really no need to aerate or swirl. My one-and-only Le Creuset Dutch oven is used now only in the rare instances that I am cooking for a crowd since it is HUGE. I mostly use my 4-qt. Lodge enamel-coated Dutch oven which cost me $59 on Amazon and works fine. I buy my coffee already ground, and (don’t tell anyone) I sometimes turn the pot back on when it shuts off after two hours.
I use my food processor mostly when I make a pie crust and my immersion blender mostly when I make cream-of soups.
But I will admit that I do, indeed, use my Kitchenaid stand mixer. It was one of only a few kitchen items that I consider so essential that I bought one for our AZ home. Read about my purchasing exploits here.
My kitchen doesn’t always smell like yeast, as I had hoped. In fact, my bread-making activities have been largely unsuccessful. But I use it for every other baking activity. And while I have finally come to grips with the fact that I’m not ever going to be on Food Network, I will happily bake up a batch of cookies or banana bread or cupcakes any day of the week! I pulled out my Kitchen Aid stand mixer last night when I made lemon bread. Yum…..
By the way, I began thinking about cooking appliances because I read an article recently from Atlantic Magazine from which I learned that millennials are much like me. They want to like to cook, but mostly they want to impress their friends, family, and Instagram followers with their Le Creuset Dutch ovens and Kitchenaid stand mixers.
Things don’t really change all that much.