Category Archives: Baking

My Mixer

I love my stand mixer. I know it seems silly. A kitchen appliance. You might think love is a little too strong of a word. It is not.

 

Mom and Dad gave my stand mixer to me as a birthday gift a few years back and from that very moment on, we have created a beautiful relationship.

 

I didn’t grow up with a stand mixer. We had some other pretty great mixer. I will always have a special kind of nostalgia for that mixer. Sometime in my teen years, or maybe it was as late as college, Mom got her own stand mixer, a buttery yellow mixer that did amazing things. I started falling.

 

My mixer is a little bit larger than the standard model. My often requested cowboy cookies just don’t quite fit into the 5 qt size bowl. It is a beautiful shade of red. For years I have fantasized about my future kitchen. It is going to be a tasteful, not kitchey, subtle patriotic theme (which fits if you know me well, and if you know about my rose garden dreams, and the names of my future children…). So red fits. It also goes well with my blue dutch oven, but that might be for another post.

 

When I decided I was going to move I knew I would have to wait 8 months before I could make it happen. I had commitments. I am not the type of person to back out of a commitment.

 

5 months before my move, I was out here visiting and it was Passover. I was making dessert, which if you read my previous post, you know I have strong feelings about, and I use a lot of egg whites. Well guess what, The Cousins, they didn’t own a stand mixer, or a hand mixer, or even a whisk! I know, I almost died too…

 

I managed to procure a whisk and made all my desserts by hand. I realized 2 things:

  1. I have very little muscle in my arms
  2. I needed my stand mixer

 

2 months later I was driving out here for a visit. My mixer was in the car with me. I knew if I left it behind, there was no backing out. I was never worried, there was something about being here that made my soul feel right, but there were some naysayers who thought I might not go through with it.

 

I had an amazing summer.

 

The night I drove into town I pulled out that mixer and got to baking. Reunited.

 

Today, I was baking again (big shock I know) and I was cleaning my mixer to put it away. I realized I was being more careful and attentive cleaning my mixer than I am shaving my legs (perhaps a reason I am single…) and I realized I wanted to talk about my love.

 

Reasons my stand mixer is WONDEROUS:

  1. It is beautiful
  2. It can whip up eggs whites in a fraction of the time it would take any other way
  3. The dough hook option kneads bread fantastically
  4. I can multitask while it mixes, blends, whips, kneads, and does all the other amazing things it does
  5. Shredded chicken (use the paddle attachment after you have cooked and deboned it while it is still warm)
  6. It is better than a white noise machine
  7. it has potential to do so many other things I haven’t even tried yet

 

I am thrilled by my immersion blender, and my cookies sheets, and cake pans. I adore my butter cutter (What is that you ask? Well, it is something you need). I would be devastated to part with my cake stands (yes plural), decorating tips, silpats, and all my other tools. But I LOVE my stand mixer. I doubt I am the only one who feels this way. In fact I learned about the shredded chicken tip from a fellow stand mixer lover. Maybe we could start a club…

A Passover Confession (and Desserts)

I know Yom Kippur is the time to atone and that confession is more of a Catholic thing, but I have to get something off my chest.

 

I hate matzo. No, really, I really hate it. I try to get through Passover eating as little of it as possible. I am usually able to make it through with just what I have to nibble on at the seder after we say the blessings. Occasionally, I will take an obligatory serving of someone’s matzo kugel or other such dish that they just love and promise tastes great. I don’t want to be rude. I don’t want to offend. I am willing to try it, but please, matzo is never delicious. I dislike it so much I have considered pretending I am gluten free just for the week so people stop offering me matzo.

 

I really hate everything with matzo in it. Except maybe matzo balls, I don’t hate matzo balls, but I don’t really love them either. I think it is more that I like the soup than the matzo balls themselves. I will eat them, but I never miss them, crave them, think loving kind thoughts about them. And matzo-brie? Matzo “bread” or “cakes”? NO. They are an unnecessary abomination of food and an assault on my taste buds.

 

That is my big confession. I hate the main symbolic food of one of my favorite religious holidays. The 4th of July and Thanksgiving being my favorite secular holidays, in case you are curious.

 

As a baker, I am often tasked (although, admittedly, I happily offer) to bring dessert to most events. During Passover, this can be a challenge. I suppose I should also tell you I don’t love coconut (sorry macaroons) and meringues don’t particularly thrill me, blasphemous I know… this also limits the typical dessert selection at Passover. My goal is to find desserts that don’t taste like matzo, and don’t make me feel like I am just settling for an excuse for dessert.

 

Last year, I discovered THIS amazing recipe. I almost don’t want to share it with you so that you can only enjoy it if you invite me over…but I will be a better person than that… (begrudgingly). If you make it, watch out, you will be asked to make it again and again. Or you could just have me make it…

 

This year, I made it again (2 actually), but you remember that cousin that had that sweet little peanut? Well that peanut isn’t much liking when his mommy eats dairy. So whipped cream frosting is out. Even chocolate filling isn’t looking promising. So I decided to make something else that she could enjoy. Oh! and it gets more complicated…her husband, my cousin, his birthday falls on the first night of Passover.  So he obviously needs a birthday cake. A kosher for Passover, dairy free, matzo free, cake. Challenge accepted!

 

I start researching (yes, that obsessive thing I do more often than I realized). I find all kind of interesting gluten free, dairy free, kosher for passover cakes. This is going to be great. A real baking adventure. I send the cousin his choices. He choses a German Chocolate option. Great! The ingredients are…what is another word for weird and expensive…nonstandard…unique…inventive? I am regretting this choice, but, typical me, I am going to make it work! I lament to a friend, send her the link. She points out it has baking soda. So less than 24 hours before the first seder I need to drop back and punt. Are you kidding me?!

 

I find a recipe for a chocolate cake. I modify the recipe some. Decide I can use “fake” chocolate, you know that diary free stuff that I suppose I am grateful exists, but I hope to never have to eat it. As I am resigning myself to making a coconut dairy free excuse for frosting, the no-longer-pregnant cousin texts me that she is going to try reintroducing some dairy into her diet. Hurray!! I charge full steam ahead with the most delicious whipped cream frosting I can throw together.

 

The cake was a success. It didn’t look beautiful, but it sure tasted amazing. I had some for breakfast this morning.

I also made matzo crack. If you are unfamiliar with this, try making it. Matzo crack is a tolerable exception to my no matzo rule (I still don’t usually eat it). Anything covered in that much sugar, butter, and chocolate is going to be edible, maybe even a little yummy.

 

Next time you are asked to make or bring dessert during Passover, please consider that just because our diets are limited during Pesach, it does not mean that our pallets do not have to suffer.

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