It’s time for a new series of adventures (misadventures?) — this time along culinary lines. I recently acquired a Thermomix and will now proceed to torment you all with accounts of my hapless kitchen exploits.
I say “hapless”, because I am not a “foodie” in the sense of creating — only in the sense of consuming. (And I do LOVE to consume.) But that is all about to change (kinda).
First, why a Thermomix?
I have to admit people are asking why I, who doesn’t cook a lot, now have a $2000 mega-appliance sitting on my kitchen bench. It was, in fact, a very generous gift from my parents, but I thought long and hard about accepting it.
In the end, I was convinced by a few things:
- I really like the idea of getting back to basics — i.e. preparing foods from natural ingredients, rather than relying on jars etc from the supermarket. Examples of processed foods I’m hoping to eliminate from my diet include stock, pesto, dips, relishes, cakes/slices…
- I want to cook more frequently and more diversely. I’ve become too reliant on Lite n Easy meals (which are healthy and good quality for frozen foods, but still…), and when I do get around to “cooking” it’s very simple. (I always try to ensure I’m eating fresh salad/vegetables whenever possible, but my repertoire is not large.) If a Thermomix can cut out a few steps, not to mention time, then I’m more likely to make the effort.
- My sisters each had one and I got jealous.
Now, I know that most things made in a Thermomix can be made using more traditional tools — food processors, saucepans etc. If I wasn’t making the effort before, what would make me change?
I figure it’s all about habit. And confidence. Both of which could be acquired without a Thermomix, but probably with more rigmarole. After all, I’m far more likely to adopt new habits if they are more efficient.
OK, that’s enough rationalising. I have a Thermomix now. Deal with it. There’s no going back.
To help create my new habit, grow confidence, and avoid my fear of harboring a dormant Thermomix, I have pledged to create at least one thing every week from one of the Thermomix cookbooks.
These do not need to be new — it’s OK if I repeat recipes, but I figure the more confident I get with using the machine and creating particular dishes, the more I’ll want to try new things. Simple is fine as well. As long as I make something.
So how did the first two weeks go?
Day 1 — Vegetable stock
My Thermomix was delivered on 16 March. As part of the commissioning process, we made vegetable stock. This involved roughly chopping a bunch of vegetables and herbs and throwing them into the Thermomix with a little oil and a heap of salt.
It cooked for 20 minutes, then we zhooshed it while still hot. I now have SO MUCH vegetable stock for soups, casseroles, pasta sauces, risottos etc. It will last in the freezer for months, and because of the salt doesn’t freeze solid. It’s freaking cool.
- I was really really glad I made this under supervision, because that thing growled and nearly jumped off the bench when pureeing (which took a minute). I would have freaked out and turned it off.
- The ability to cook and blend all in the one machine is magnificent. It’s quick and easy and I will be using this functionality for soup repeatedly. Can’t wait!
Day 3 — Vitality Truffles
I went for something really easy for my first solo effort. Vitality truffles are essentially blended dried fruit (apricots/peaches, dates, figs, raisins), hazelnuts and rolled oats. The most time consuming part was the (manual) rolling into balls.
- I daringly made these under some time pressure, since I was taking them to our afternoon D&D session. The making of them was fine. What I neglected to take into account was the cleanup time. (Note to self!)
- Not that cleanup was particularly arduous or time-consuming. But it was the first time, so I was naturally more tentative and careful.
- My D&D team enjoyed the vitality truffles and I would definitely make these again as a quick and healthy snack for when I need to take a plate of food for some event.
Day 11 — Chocolate custard
I’m going to get so fat. The Thermomix has three built-in, fully automatic recipes, one of which is custard. Thick and creamy custard. I adore custard. Basically, you follow the prompts when adding ingredients (milk, cornflour, sugar, eggs, cocoa – if desired) and then press “go”. Less than 10 minutes later, there is thick and creamy custard. Noms. (You still have clean up, though. Bleurgh.) But custard!
Day 12 — Pasta in tomato sauce with ham and chorizo
Made last night, pasta in tomato sauce etc was my most daring mixadventure yet. I diligently went shopping for all the ingredients on the weekend, and made sure I started cooking before I was tired and hungry. It involved more steps than the previous recipes — grating parmesan and setting aside, chopping the meats and setting aside, then a few chopping and cooking steps involving onions (sauteed), canned tomatoes, pasta. But everything was cooked in the one vessel and it tasted delicious. MUCH more tasty than it looks. (Food styling is clearly not my thing.)
- I’m still using the “assisted cooking” process via the Basic Cookbook electronic chip. In other words, the Thermomix touchscreen steps you through the addition of each (weighed) ingredient and cooking stage, and automatically sets the temperatures and times.
- Even though I know you’re not supposed to mess with the recipe the first time, I messed with the recipe. I added additional vegetables and meat and considerably less pasta. It came out a little more runny than it should have (I didn’t adjust the water), but cooked perfectly and tasted delicious. It will still do me three meals. (I didn’t particularly want four meals worth.)
- It took me an hour from start to finish — at which point I stuck it in the oven with the parmesan cheese on top to make a pasta bake. The recipe says it should take 20 minutes. Considering there is more than 20 minutes cooking time in the recipe, I think the book is delusional. You still have to gather your ingredients, wash the bowl after the parmesan, peel the onions etc. I daresay I would get quicker, but 20 minutes? No.
So I think the first two weeks went pretty well!
I’m serious about my pledge to make something at least once each week, and will continue to work my way through the Basic Cookbook (which comes with the Thermomix) as a starting point. I might try a risotto next.
My intention is to drop in from time to time to let you know how I’m going! Until the next mixadventure…