HOME: Appreciating Modern Conveniences


My family and I took a quick weekend trip to our lakehouse rental to enjoy fall pleasures and time with each other. Because it was a short trip, we kept things kind of lean as far as packing. I usually pack a lot of favorite kitchen utensils and gadgets when we go up on our week long stay. The cottage is equipped with the basics, and you can manage to cook basic, decent meals-but not for "foodies"!

Well, after a trip to an orchard, I wanted to make an apple pie. I had the foresight to bring my favorite pan and rolling pin-but that's it. What I came to realize, and appreciate, is what modern day appliances really do for us. They not only make things easier, but it allows us to be better cooks.

My pie crust is usually made in the food processor-it allows the butter pieces to be the right size for an ideal crust and allows things to stay cold. Well, making a pie crust with just a fork is a bit of a job. And the bits of butter stayed in larger chunks and were too varied in size. Meanwhile, my shortening melted quickly as I kept mushing the dough together with the fork, my wrist beginning to hurt (then kneading it with my hands, making things worse!). I wanted to make two pies, one for the cottage landlord and one for us. So double the work with just a fork-not so fun. The dough was very soft, the vegetable shortening melting too fast. I barely needed liquid to shape it into anything. I had a feeling it was not going to roll out well-and I was right. It was a mess. In frustration for our pie, I used store bought dough. I just gave up! The landlord's was a galette-and it was thankfully passable. The shortening stayed colder and the dough was slightly more workable than the other two crusts.

Beyond crusts, making whipped cream or meringue from egg whites had to be done with a whisk by hand-ouch! I have gained a whole new respect and admiration for the chefs that came before us. They had to do things with whisks, forks, hand mashers and hand beaters. In some ways, it might be better-things were probably not over mixed or overworked (from exhaustion)-but WOW. I bet our grandparents had wrists of steel! They also were probably more patient with their labors of love, because they had to be. They had no choice. And when they said they loved to bake, they had to REALLY mean it. I love baking too-but I also love my food processor, and the extra time it gives me to spend with my daughter. XOXO Cuisenart! Hope you like traveling because you are coming next time!

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