I realized the other day while making paté that my KitchenAid mixer turned 35 this year — thirty five years this yellow baby has been churning out egg whites and cookie dough and cake batter. The last couple of years it’s repetoire has expanded to include pasta dough and grinding meat — it’s a very talented machine.
The KitchenAid belonged to my mother. She ordered it, with every attachment, the afternoon my father walked out. The story she tells is that she’d been wanting it, but he thought it was too expensive — so when he finally decided that he had to go, she called Marshall Fields before he could change the charge accounts and ordered the KitchenAid. We always thought this story was hilarious (sorry Dad). That year was so terrible — my parents broke up and our youngest brother had cancer and we had to move off our farm — but all that spring my mother cooked. Michael was so sick from the chemo that she baked bread and cookies and made soup from scratch and roasted chickens. Patrick and I were in heaven and so, I’ve always been very fond of the KitchenAid. It came into our lives at a dark time and made everything a little cheerier.
I learned to cook on this machine. I remember creaming the butter and sugar for chocolate chip cookies as a little kid, and a long Saturday in high school where I kept overbeating the whipping cream and turning it into butter. I’d ruin a pint, then have to get on my bike and ride to the store for more, then I broke it again. I think I went through four or five half-pints of cream before I figured it out.
When I was in grad school, my mother moved again and decided she was done with cooking. She sent me a big box of stuff – the KitchenAid and some old bread pans and an angel-food pan (that I don’t think I’ve ever used — hmmm), and so, for the past fifteen years I’ve dragged this heavy heavy machine from one house to another, from Davis to Salt Lake then back to the Bay Area then here, to Montana. I’ve made countless cakes for parties, and even that awful Christmas after Patrick died, the Crocquembouche That Wouldn’t Die. I love this machine. I love that it’s so well made that even after thirty five years I never have to wonder if it’s going to work, never have to wonder about that little engine that could in there. And I love that the attachments mean that I don’t have to have a whole pile of applicances — I can make pasta or grind meat — and maybe if Santa is good to me, I can make ice cream! I have all that beautiful milk these days ….