Sunday, August 19, 2012

Loving My New Toy!

I did it! I bought myself a new toy.

Let me back up and start from the beginning, so to speak, so you get the whole story.  Over a year ago, I decided I wanted to take a cake decorating class from the Michael's store.  The Wilton for beginners.  I had a grand baby on the way and wanted to be able to make some really great cakes for birthdays.  I also wanted to make nice cakes for holidays and church gatherings. At any rate, I started the classes, bought the big kit and then some extra things to go with it of course.  It was a four week class...I made two of them.  I am going to try to take them over, but have to see what time the classes are available.  So, to help with the "big plan" I decided to purchase a stand mixer, all I had was a little hand type.  I wanted a KitchenAid, my mom had one and hers was always so reliable.  So, I asked mom about it and she said she would buy it and I could pay her back.  Well, she ended up giving it to me as a birthday gift.  While I miss my mom's mixer and it's glass bowls, I am loving my white mixer with the stainless steel bowl.  Why not, everything else in my kitchen is stainless steel.

I think I made like two cakes with it, about that many batches of icing for decorating.  Now, over a year later, I was some how remembering the little attachments my mom had for her mixer.  OH HOW I Wish I hadn't put them in the estate sell in 2010.  Kind of funny though, my mother in law came by and bought my mom's mixer.  She used to own a bakery so she knows her stuff. Back to the story though.  I had just bought a new food chopper to replace mine that was broken.  The little thing was the greatest and only cost about $10, but the lid cracked and it just doesn't seem to run right after that.  To replace it I bought a Ninja Express, a red one, which I have not used it as yet, will post how it works for me another time.  Since I am now on a quest to organize my life, wanting to get back to OAMC and menu planning,  I have after much thought, decided it was time to invest in some of the attachments.
I found a huge bargain on this little bundled set, it is actually two attachments and an accessory. I bought it.  If you don't know anything about mixers, KitchenAid is considered one of the top brands and is a little on the pricey side, but they have a great warranty.  What you see above is a vegetable roto cutter/shredder, which comes with a set of 4 blades, meat/food grinder and the little extra attachment to stuff sausage.  I can't wait to really try them all out.  There are just a ton of attachments and accessories one you can buy to go with the  mixer.
My first experiment was with cucumbers.  It has been so hot and cucumber salad was sounding so good.  I didn't have my glasses on (have an appointment Wed. to get updated prescription) and did notice that two of the cutters looked similar, however I was not at able to read the marking on the drum cutter so though it was for a regular cutting. In no time I had everything cut. They came out wonderful, but paper thin so I will be sure and use the thicker cut slicer next time. I can see a trying this thin cutter to make some homemade potato chips very soon.

My next little adventure will be in pasta making. I have always wanted to try it, I love the texture of fresh pasta.
This is the pasta roller attachment for my mixer. The options are a roller with two cutters or five cutters.  You roll the pasta out really thin, then roll through the cutters which make different widths of noodles.  It is really pricey, so was thinking it over before making that kind of investment.  Because I also want the pasta extuder attachment.
With this attachment, you don't roll the dough out, you put in small balls of dough, a couple at a time, and then it is forced through the die cuts for the different shapes, the little wire cutter is used to make the length you choose.  Works like the play dough barber or beauty shop that makes the hair grow. I want this attachment so that I can make macaroni, rigatoni, spaghetti, and even the spiral type.

That's when it hit me.  I have a roller already.  Out to the garage I went and lucky for me it was sitting on the shelf closest to the edge, so literally right in front of my face.
Okay, granted it is hand cranked, but it is already bought so the price is right.  It has a roller head and one cutter blade.  I think I buy extra cutter blades, for making different widths of pasta ribbons, but, there is a little cheaper way.
It is called a pasta bike.  You can put the wheels really close together for narrow pasta like linguine, or spread them out farther to cut lasagna strips. The pasta bike allows you to cut several strips at once.
Or you can use this type of cutter to cut one strip at a time.  One side for straight edges, the other side for a wavy effect such as lasagna or for crimping ravioli.  Looks like a wheel I have for marking sewing patterns.  Speaking of ravioli.
There are all kinds of ravioli makers.  This one is pretty cool.  Place one sheet of dough over the metal tray, spoon the filling of choice on top, then place another sheet of dough on top.  Take the rolling pin and roll across it and it cuts the dough and crimps the edges  for seal. There is also a rolling pin that is grooved to cut the ravioli with out the tray.  There are different shaped cutters as well.  The ravioli can be made with out a form, just put the first sheet of dough on the counter or a board, spoon the filling in, top with second sheet of dough and the just run you hand cutter through to separate and seal. I even have a little round cutter in my kitchen drawer.  Of course, there is an attachment for my mixer for that as well.  You load one pasta shape, let it drape to the left, load the other pasta sheet, let it drape to the right, then spoon in the filling as you go.  There may even be an attachment for my hand dough roller.

If I had a large family, or did catering, I would probably invest in the more fancy ravioli makers, but not at this time.  So, actually, my next big purchase is either the extruder for my mixer or just buy a pasta machine that does all the mixing and then extrudes the shapes out.  My problem is I have read mixed reviews on both set ups.  I have not found any one that has actually used one or the other.  I also posted on the local Free Cycle group to see if anyone has a pasta machine that they would like to get rid of. We will see what happens.

In the mean time, today I am going to clean out my pantry and see just what food I have on hand.  My sweet little daughter (15) got it in her head to clean out the bottom part for me one day.  She even wrote out a list of what all I had on hand.  Problem is, she didn't put it back in any order, and not in the spots I am used to so am struggling to find items.  The top part of the pantry is a total disaster as well.  Cans of soup on three different shelves, fruit and vegetables all mixed together. Have got to get that one cleaned out as well.  I know, I know, sounds kind of OCD of me, but I hate having to look through all the shelves to find what I am looking for. Or worse, buying products just get home and find that I already have three of them.

Oh, and my freezers need some serious cleaning out and reorganizing as well.  I am sure I have meat in there, but can never seem to find it.  One freezer has a lot of frost that is taking up valuable room, not to mention making the unit work harder, so will defrost it when I clean it out.  I am sure there is a lot of stuff that really needs to just be thrown away.

Of course, that is not an easy task when most of my time is taken up with the grand son. He seems to think that I nothing else to do but hold him and play with him.  And...he is usually right.

On a side note, finally got my shelf units in to my sewing room.  Soon as hubby gets the one set attached to the wall  I can start pulling all my supplies out of storage and getting that all organized back.  Had to store it all when we turned the room in to a bedroom for my mom to live in while she was sick.  Now that she has passed, there is so much to do and so much to still go through.  All of her personal belongings are in storage, but I have until the end of December to actually get rid of all that.  The hard part is wanting to keep the larger items because it was hers, but I don't really have space for it.

Well, messing around on the computer is sure not getting anything accomplished.  Thanks for stopping by and drop in again soon.

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