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It’s Not You, It’s Me…Trading Up

It really isn’t the Sunbeam‘s fault. It’s an excellent mixer! I have to say I have only one gripe about it. The beaters are difficult to remove.

Vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster Pro

I end up getting more ingredients all over the kitchen trying to take them off than I do when I turn it on full blast. The other issue with the mixer isn’t really a gripe. It’s more of an evolutionary issue. I use Cook’s Illustrated recipes–almost exclusively now. They are constantly updating recipes as they test them and find ways to perfect a recipe, and they test equipment to determine which equipment will yield the home cook the best results. Well, sorry Sunbeam.

Mixers now have the planetary action when mixing, and they are one beater machines. Mixer manufacturers also have been making improvements to attachments such as the flat paddle, something that wasn’t included with the Sunbeam. Also, the Sunbeam didn’t come with a whisk attachment. I hate to say it, even though I’m fairly new to the cooking/baking scene, I have outgrown this mixer. I bought a Cuisinart 5.5 Stand Mixer. It was on top of the Cook’s Illustrated product test for stand mixers.

What really pushed me completely to the Cuisinart over the KitchenAid were the reviews on the Cuisinart on Amazon.com. Many of the reviews were raving of how it handled yeast and cookie dough. They were very impressed with the five (5) year motor warranty (I was, too). One gentleman actually dropped his on it’s head (you know what I mean), and it never mixed a beat (haha). He updated his review over the course of several years and the mixer was still performing with excellence even given his accident.

Cuisinart 5.5 Stand Mixer

The new mixer is pretty sweet. Beautiful, I would say. I would even describe the older Sunbeam as beautiful. I love the vintage look. I felt like it was Christmas opening this mixer up. It was so easy to assemble and use. I have made three (3) loaves of bread with it (2 batches). It made the process very easy.

My First Shot at Homemade Bread – Home run!!

I enjoyed baking the bread so much I am going to get a Cottage Foods license to be able to bake bread and sell it locally. There’s just something about being able to share something you baked yourself with others. I also will most likely be baking bread for Christmas. I think the fact that I do not dread having to make more loaves is a great testimony for the Cuisinart. The Sunbeam did make the baking process easier, but there were little things that were frustrating. I haven’t encountered the first frustration, yet. I am very excited about the prospects of selling my own creations.

So again, it’s not that the Sunbeam was a bad machine, it’s just that I didn’t enjoy using it. I actually “enjoy” using the Cuisinart. I guess if I am considering using it for business purposes, it’s a good thing that I enjoy it. I feel like it will be a reliable tool. I will treat it well, keep it clean, and in good repair. Who knows what future opportunities will arise out of this venture. I am anticipating and hopeful.

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Oh What a Dilly…

I have encountered some of the most amazing potatoes. They are small. They are called Melissa’s Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes.

Dilly Potato Salad with Roasted Hen, Asparagus in light butter, and fresh, local grown tomatoes

I just tried them out one day because I thought they were cute (yeah, I know…what’s the connection). I made potato salad with them. The dish was my own creation–just a play on the traditional potato salad. I left out the relish and added parsley. I boiled the potatoes until they were beginning to get soft. I added mayo, salt, pepper, mustard and stirred them vigorously to cause some to mash a bit. The final result was really almost perfection for me. The potatoes were so buttery in consistency. I got LOTS of compliments on the dish.

When I try a dish and it isn’t what I would totally want it to be, it will bug me until I get it right. I mentioned this to my America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School instructor (Cali Rich), and she responded back to me with the name Dilly Potato Salad because my next attempt would be to omit the parsley and add dill (the herb). I did just that, and wow! I was completely happy with it. My husband kept making comments on how good it was over and over. I was very pleased! Posted is the picture of our meal with the Dilly Potato Salad.

Sweetness in the Storm

There’s this song that I sing to my son when I am nursing him, it goes “Yummy, yummy, I got some milk in my tummy…” Well, that is what you would want with this cake. A big, tall, glass of your favorite milk. As you know from my previous post, there’s been an explosion of flavor in my house lately. I am cooking and baking, and I AM LOVING IT!

Honestly, I feel like I have possessed by one of the America’s Test Kitchen interns (I don’t even know if I’d be good enough to be an intern). I may not be good enough to be an intern yet, but I could be within a year! I won a one-year subscription to America’s Test Kitchen’s online cooking school. Yeah. How lucky is that? How did I do it? Tweeted. For the first time in quite a while. I don’t really “tweet,” but I just happened to read an article from their blog and decided to take their cooking quiz, and TWEET. I was TOTALLY shocked because I never win anything. I am going to try my best to get the most out of it. I hope to make my cooking instructor, Cali Rich-senior editor of Cook’s Country magazine, proud.

The flavor explosion spoken of in previous posts has now turned into a different type of explosion. I’ve been working on reorganizing my kitchen. I don’t know what I have. Honestly, I had like 4 blenders! How does that happen? It happens by letting your husband put your dishes away, and he pushes them into the highest, darkest corner of the cabinets and you swear you had something but give up and decide, I must have sold it or given it away. You ask him, and he says, “What blender?” So, you buy another one. Yeah…

Baking this cake this weekend was quite a challenge because of the “explosion.” All of my kitchen accessories are on my kitchen table in the dining room. I’m like, “Hey, I’m going through all of my cabinets, so I may as well go ahead and clean them out, too, and oh yeah, while I’m at it, why not let’s cooks a cake from scratch for dear ole’ dad for his birthday.”

I shared with my family this evening after enjoying a nice slice of this cake that I really underestimate the time necessary to cook. I have learned where I’m losing a lot of my time. It’s in the preparation. Chopping, measuring, and other things required to have the items ready. When you just pull everything out and start the recipe straight from the book, you will realize that there were a great many steps you could have taken to make it a more seamless process. I did learn my lesson! AND…my kitchen should be back to normal — errr, uh, a more organized normal, this week.

My next dish is going to be a homemade potato salad I made a couple of weeks ago with baby dutch yellow potatoes. I want to add fresh dill this time instead of parsley, so that means I have to go back to Lowe’s and actually buy the dill plant instead of thinking I did. I am going to take pics of this one and share with you. It really is excellent! The potatoes are so smooth! You know what? There’s a lot to know about food. Like all potatoes are not created equal…just a little something I picked up from America’s Test Kitchen YouTube video (very casual, not pro video)  on “The Science of Cooking.” So tell me, what are you making?

 

 

Kitchen Explosion

Now I have your attention! Yes, my kitchen has experienced an explosion of my interest. When I was in the workplace full-time, I was out of the kitchen full-time. If you read my last article, you know that I am home full-time now (read the article for details on why). To my husband’s delight, I have a new found love for my kitchen. Yes, it’s a bit too small, but as long as I’m the only one in it, it’s just fine for me. Get in my way though, and I lose interest because of bumping into each other at every turn.

So what has gotten my attention and brought such love into my kitchen, great food and being home full-time with my son ! Of course there are several things that brought me around to that realization…the discussion of DIY items with my friend (which made me think of making my own bread, butter, jelly and more), the successful attempt at making a pound cake from scratch

My cake–from scratch! 🙂

(Taste of Home, Million Dollar Pound Cake), the purchase of a couple of All-Clad pans at a bargain price, and being introduced to Cook’s Illustrated magazine and America’s Test Kitchen videos on YouTube. Yes, that’s a lot I know, but one led to another. In a matter of days, this had all happened. It all started from that one conversation with my friend. It’s amazing what contemplation will do.

I have since baked another pound cake (same type) for a church function, and made indoor pulled pork by following a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. Can you say, AWESOME. I realized if I continue on this path, there will be a weight gain issue in our home. I was fortunate to find that Cook’s has a healthy recipes cookbook. They take many of the same recipes and work through them to make recipes that result in the same taste but with fewer calories and fat. That is a win, win in my opinion!! I was excited to learn that I can still love cooking without having to give up truly good food, using tried and true recipes, and participating in the fun of cooking led by America’s Test Kitchen. I’m so excited!!

So what’s exploding at your house?

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