Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Kitchen Adventures- Conclusion

The children jumped up and down in anticipation. "Hurray, today's ice-cream day!", as my husband wrote down a shopping list for ingredients. My kids happily went with him to the grocery store, while I cleared the counters for the inaugural ceremony of the ice-cream maker.

I opened the box and picked up the instruction manual to glance through it, and froze on page 2.
"Place the outer bowl in the fridge for at least 2 hours to ensure that it is thoroughly chilled".
That didn't sound very high-tech to me. What happened to the all-in-one claims of 'Perfect ice-
cream in 20 minutes' plastered on the box? Was there any mention at all of having to pre-chill the bowl? That would make it a '2 and 1/2 hour ice-cream', not a 20-minute wonder.

The kids trooped upstairs, babbling in excitement, and my husband dumped the supplies for the goodies on the counter. I waved the manual before him and said "Looks like you need to chill the bowl for this one, just as we do for our low-tech icecream maker."

"What??!!??" He gaped at me.

"The instruction manual says so".

"But that isn't the impression that I got from the details on the box."

"You've been deceived. I thought it sounded too good to be true," I said as I sauntered to another counter to start preparing lunch.

"Hey, kids, we'll just use the old bowl to prepare the ice-cream today. This new one is no good.
I'm going to return it". Out came the trusty old rotating handle version with its frozen bowl that always had a reserved space in our freezer.

Moral: When modern technology doesn't really turn out to be modern, stick with the Stone Age implements!

The next day was the food-processor's turn. This time, I offered to go to the supermarket for supplies (and a break) while my husband parsed every sentence in the instruction booklet, to make sure there were no nasty surprises.

I returned with cans of chickpeas, tahini paste, parsley, garlic, kosher salt and lemons and the first experiment was on. One by one, the ingredients went in and out came the freshest,yummiest, creamiest hummus that we had all tasted in a long while. The only problem was that we had enough to feed the entire neighborhood, so my husband packed off generous helpings to friends, while the kids ( not hummus-fans) still looked askance at the capabilities of the new machine on the block.

"I'll make you salsa", my husband promised, as my kids rattled the large Tostito corn chips bag from the supermarket. Tomatoes, onion chunks, cilantro, jalapeno, lemon juice- some preparation was required to make sure the vegetable pieces were small enough to fit in the mouth of the feed tube. Was this extra work really necessary, I wondered, as he set to chopping the vegetables.

Once the 'prep' was done, it took all of two pulses to get the perfect salsa consistency. The kids gobbled up a goodly portion of the fresh salsa, without a fuss. But for the next week or so, the remaining salsa languished in the refrigerator. "Should have used the Spanish sweet onions", my husband muttered. "This salsa tastes a bit bitter with those yellow onions that we used."

Next came the 'slicing capabilities' test, with my husband trying out cucumbers, onions,potatoes, green peppers, just about every vegetable in the fridge, trying to see how well the slicing worked, while I struggled to use up the sliced vegetables as well as I could in recipes for which I would usually dice them.

The verdict was a mixed one. He concluded that the slicing would be thinner if we could adjust the size of the slicing blade opening, but discovered that purchasing a separate blade to match the thinnest slices we wanted would set us back another $50/-. So that put an end to that idea.

The final test was the pizza dough. He tried out the basic recipe in the instruction booklet, and added the usual toppings for a very nice, if rather low-calorie pizza. "Tastes a bit too much like bread" was the general consensus.

"That's because you need to use more than the two tablespoons of olive oil in the recipe. The more generous you are with the oil, the more crispy golden the crust" - Mom, the veteran of a few dozen home-made, hand-mixed pizza dough and pizzas.

I still failed to see why the pizza dough had to be mixed in the food processor,but enthusiastically applauded the idea of retaining the appliance, given the fun that my family had joining the cooking process. I put aside my prejudices and gave it a worthy welcome by wiping down my appliance counter and letting it usurp the space earlier occupied by my cookbook collection.

P.S. And, I finally gave in to a long-time wish and ordered a slow cooker for a new round of experimentation in the kitchen- My turn, this time!

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