Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ode to the KitchenAid

(Kara has been waiting for this post for over a year now!)

A friend postulated in a post the other day that there probably is many a KitchenAid mixer gathering dust. She actually wants one, because she's a big baker. (And we have enjoyed many a good cookie by her hands!) I quickly responded that it was time for a blog post on the subject, because in our house, this definitely is not the case.

(Not Grandma's basement, but this sure looks like her mixer.)

The KitchenAid is as much a family tradition in my family as the recipes we cook up using the KitchenAid. My sisters and I remember going into my Mom's mom's basement to do any cake mixing, because Grandma's machine was so big, and there was no working counter space in her kitchen. We did all of our prep for any cooking on her kitchen table. (Then we'd eat in the dining room because there wouldn't be room on the kitchen table to put dishes!)

My Mom has a KitchenAid. We grew up mixing lots of birthday cake batter, icing and Christmas cookie dough in there. Hers is white and has the control dial on the top. A glass bowl! It has a great design in that it twists into place at the base. I'm not sure how this never broke or cracked in all the years of use. Of course, if Mom had a ceramic sink (like we do), she may have needed a few replacements.

As we sisters grew up and got married, it was Grandma who wanted to buy us all KitchenAids for our wedding presents. Who could say 'no' to that? We even got to pick out our own colors. Mine is on the far left. Only one chose a color other than white. (And that blue has to look awesome in your new red kitchen!)

It was my "blue" sister who decided a year ago to make my Mom a special cookbook with some of the classic home-baked KitchenAid recipes that we grew up with and the "next generation" of recipes that we girls are baking today. It was a huge hit!

We helped her personalize it with photos of our machines and some of the things we remembered about baking with Mom (like the cookie jar with the elf lid; the old yellow cookie tin--which I have and continue to pack Christmas cookies in when we visit my folks; and, my Mom's aluminum staple canisters, with the sugar scoop that has no handle and always stays in the canister).

Here at the homestead, CJ and RJ2 have made their share of cookies, "breakfast cakes" and muffins with the KitchenAid. I got the meat grinding attachment, though I've used it most to grind down pumpkin meat for pies. My "blue" sister passed along her shredding attachment. Many a block of cheese has passed through for tacos, mac/cheese and pizza. The dough hook helps us make bread for teacher appreciation days and accompaniments for dinners for friends.

Harking back to the last post here, why we talk about food is because food is never just about the food. There is so much that goes into the preparation of food. And it's not just pulling the ingredients! Making good food takes time--time to chop, mix, bake. One learns how to pass time productively and joyfully.

If you've ever baked cookies with little ones, you know, deep down, how much fun it is. (Suspend thoughts of your messy kitchen for a minute.) Kids show you how creative they can be. They talk while they bake! They ask questions. They learn, slowly, about how to cook. They take ownership of what they make and get a charge out of serving it up to somebody else. And they remember all of these things. You'll hear about it if you don't make gingerbread dough!

You see, CJ, it's not always about what you cook. It's more about the cooking--and what's cooking with you! It's about remembering special times and occasions and family moments. It's not just about the food.

Now, since we're home again today, what shall we make?


Kelly Combs said...

Love, love, love this post! Takes me back to my "Grammy's" kitchen. Homemade light-bread cakes (which I thought were calling library cakes for the longest time!) She kept a drawer full of kool-aid packets and when we visited we got to pick the flavor, pour the sugar and STIR!!!! Nothing was more fun that stirring that kool-aid. And she let us drink out of dixie cups with our initial written with black marker on the bottom. It must be where my sister came up with her affection for the black marker.

While kool-aid isn't cooking, it is making. And it is showing a child that they are valued and loved. Awwwww. :-)

Diane D. said...

Love your post! One silly thing that I remember from my grandmother's cooking is that when you are baking you never throw away the egg shells until what you are fixing is was supposedly bad luck and your treat wouldn't turn out right. That one went by the wayside at my need for icky eggshells to sit on the counter and grow germs!

gibsonfam said...

This reminds me of my own childhood. My grandmother and mom had the Kitchen Aid mixers and amazingly, they both still work to this day. My grandma, of course, bought all her married grandchildren the same thing for their wedding gifts. I wish mine got a little more use than it does. Thanks for some inspiration for the week ahead.

Sue J. said...

Kelly...Grandma always had big cans of Hi-C in that basement, too, and one of us would have the honor of picking out what flavor we wanted. We had Dixie cups at home, but we would scratch our initials into the bottom of the cup. No markers allowed!

Diane, hadn't heard about the egg shell tradition/superstition. Things were different then, though. They kept butter on the table!!

Carrie, I'm thinking about you. You could probably use a meal this week, not just treats! Have fun with the guys....

My ADHD Me said...

CK sent me a comment to be sure and read this post and I'm so glad she did.

Like her, it definitely reminds me of our grammy...although I didn't think they were called library cakes. I thought they were called "light berry" cakes. Regardless of what they were called they were SO good. EVERYTHING she made was good. And after reading this post, it makes me think that it probably wasn't just the food that made it so special, but it was the love she put into it.

Although cooking isn't one of my talents (I know, big surprise there), the little bit that I can do is surely due to the time I spent with her in the kitchen.

Even the clean up wasn't a chore. No dishwasher. She would wash and I would dry and we would talk about anything. Oh what a smile you have put on my face.

I cannot even imagine what would have become of us without my grandmother. What a special woman she was!

You are creating memories for your children that are SO special...but hey, that's because YOU are special!

Have a wonderful evening.

Jeff and Valerie Carr said...

What a great idea!

I miss my Kitchen Aide. I had to leave it in storage in the States because it would have required its very own transformer to run here in Spain. And I can attest there is NOTHING like a Kitchen Aide.

KelliGirl said...

This is so precious. I didn't grow up with grandparents near and although my mom is a wonderful cook, I don't have such memories. I'm not much of a baker so I'm not creating these memories with my kids, but reading your post makes me yearn to start a new tradition!

How much snow did you end up getting? We got about a foot which we loved! It was a fun snow weekend, but the kids are back in school today.

Happy Monday!

Niki said...

Great post! I love the kitchen-aid scrapbook :) And I have to agree...baking with the matter what it always a lot of fun!

Twins plus one... said...

Yes! Ode to the KitchenAids! My grandmother didn't have a stand mixer (gasp!)...and my mom just recently got hers! But I still have lots of fond memories of love shared in the kitchen with my mom, aunts, and grandma. Still share lots of love there with all of those fabulous women...and lots of laughter. Defintely the hub of our homes!
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my KitchenAid. I use it ANYTIME I can---mixing meatloaf (so much less mess!), using the slicing/grating attachment for veggies, and of course using it for all of the sweet stuff!
Thanks for sharing. I absolutely love the book you made for your mom, what a treasure!