Friday, November 11, 2016

Tales of a Kitchen Luddite

Alright, so I'm not really a Luddite, obviously, and you've seen a lot of photos of my kitchen, so you know that I'm not trying to cook or bake over a hearth.

But there are some recipes that just work better when you get your hands dirty, and so I do a lot of mixing with my hands or with wooden spoons and leave the KitchenAid mixer (which I love - we actually have two in the house because Christopher and I each had one before we got together) for bigger projects. This usually works out fine, because most recipes say things like "beat until smooth" or "mix until well combined." And you can do that by hand just as well as (or sometimes better than) you can with a mixer.

This explains why, less than two weeks after getting married, my ring was already covered with flour as I baked scones:

Cake mix boxes even have a number of strokes listed, for when you're mixing by hand instead of using a mixer for a set amount of time.

Or at least they used to. Then they shifted to descriptions like "Mix on high for 30 seconds (by hand for 30 seconds)" - which, really makes no sense, since there is no way that those two things would give equivalent mixing to whatever you were supposed to be combining.

One of the last cake mixes I used (the streusel Bundt), didn't offer any hand mixing directions. Only electric mixer ones.

Not a huge deal, since I've made cakes and know - in general - what I'm looking for.

But then I came across an Internet recipe that I wanted to use, which gave specific instructions on how to melt/combine sugar, corn syrup, and peanut butter in the microwave ("for 2-3 minutes, removing it to stir every 30 seconds"). Easy enough, right?

Unless you don't have a microwave.

Honestly, we're not living in the Stone Age, I promise. But we are living in a 1950s house with a 1950s kitchen. It's long and narrow with very little counter and cabinet space. We've opted to use some of that space for a toaster oven (which, really, we probably use five or more times each week), and the microwave lives a very peaceful life on a bottom shelf in our secondary pantry (in the basement - you need a secondary pantry when you both love to cook and one of you has worked in multiple kitchen stores). It's on the same shelf as our bread machine, right below the warming tray and the plastic bin of supplies we break out every time we have a big brunch.

See? I know where it is - and I'm not afraid to use it, but I just can't really get to it easily, so I don't.

Unfortunately, that meant that I had to figure out what a basic equivalence would be for the microwave portion of the recipe. Fortunately, I have non-Luddite Internet and social media, and so I asked a group that I belong to and was advised that the equivalent would be "bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently." And, to make sure the consensus had some backing (not that I doubted anyone), I grabbed a favorite recipe that turns out about how I suspected the new recipe should be, and verified that that is what it said, as well.

And, yes, it turned out about how I thought it would (even though the sugar mixture came to a boil while my back was turned, so it probably boiled longer than I would have planned to do).

Someday - in a different house - I'm sure I'll have a microwave back at hand. Until then, I'll be hand-mixing and stovetop-heating - and you'll hear about it whenever it goes wrong (and even sometimes when it goes right).

Oh - if you're wondering what it was that I was making with the boiling sugar and corn syrup, it was these decadent little peanut butter rice treats.*

*Did you know there's a difference between a standard Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and a "Snack Size" one? I thought it was just that the snack size ones were wrapped individually, but I was wrong. They actually are smaller than standard ones. The things you learn without meaning to...

REMINDER: I'm still hoping for recipes to try out that you'd like to see posted about. Let me know if you've got one for me!


Robin said...


Robert said...

No Bake Reese's Krispy Cookies
(It's actually linked to in the post, too. :-)