"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

waiting for Godot . . . e.g., a stand mixer at last!

I’m no Spring Chicken. For a long time now, I’ve been yearning for a Kitchenaid stand mixer. I’ve ordered one and returned it without opening the box. I ordered a much cheaper Chefmaster stand mixer and returned it to Walmart without opening the box. I look at the Kitchenaid mixers when the Williams Sonoma catalogs come in the mail – ones in Champagne color that cost over $400.

My ambivalence is based on not wanting to bake more recipes which contain sugar and flour. However, my recent successes making homemade oatmeal bread which have improved due to using an electric mixer after reading huge volumes about baking bread from the library have made me a little less timid about justifying the purchase of a stand mixer.

Plus, it looks like I’m getting a tax refund.

So, I just looked online at the Williams Sonoma champagne colored one but the 20% discount promotion code didn’t work. I looked at other Kitchenaid stand mixers on Amazon because I have Prime for free shipping (they’re very heavy.) I noticed that the Kitchenaid mixers had motors with 250-350-500 watts. Then, as I was almost ready to check out with one made by Cuisinart which had a 500 watt motor and was around $200 (as opposed to double that for Kitchenaid,) I came across one made by Litchi. Nope, I haven’t ever heard of this brand either.

However, this one is a red stand model with a 650 watt motor. Yep! It has a standard paddle, dough hook and whipping attachments. And it’s priced at $139. The highest watt motor at less than half the price of comparable models. I went for it and am looking forward to receiving it on Friday. Then, I’ll be able to whip up some oatmeal bread at the drop of a hat. It’s getting easier too as I tweak the recipe and also get more experience with the optimal consistency of the dough (soft and moist, not too much flour, let the warm milk, yeast and honey proof before adding dry ingredients.) Etc. etc. etc.

But if you had a chance to sample the medium-thick slices of fragrant, soft, wonderful crumbed bread tonight, you might think about going down this garden path too. Or at least, understand why I’ve finally gone for a stand mixer that is powerful and affordable. Now, I just hope I continue to cook and live long enough to make such a late-in-life purchase worthwhile!~

meatballs!! (Julia Turshen’s turkey, ricotta recipe) . . .

Last week, I borrowed Julia Turshen’s cookbook called “Small Victories” from the library. I’ve noticed her presence in cookbooks with whom she’s collaborated: Mario Batali, Ina Garten and Gwyneth Paltrow (although GP of course disclaimed her help!) Anyhow, she takes a different approach with simple recipes, the “small victories” being easier ways to cook. This recipe is a good example.

Here are the differences that I experienced myself (and I cook a lot!~):

  1. I usually use a meatloaf ground meat combination to make meatballs. This is the first time I’ve used ground turkey!
  2. I’ve never used ricotta as part of the meatball mix!
  3. I’ve sauteed the meatballs in a frying pan, not formed and baked in the oven!
  4. I’ve not had the benefit of breadcrumbs from homemade oatmeal bread before!
  5. I’ve not used so much fresh parsley or fresh herbs in the meatballs before either.
  6. I  fry chopped onion before adding it into the meatball mixture, ditto for garlic.

What I have done is to make a large batch of walnut-sized meatballs to serve for at least two meals: one is with Ragu (it really is tastier than Prego in my mind,) thin spaghetti and freshly grated parmesan cheese. The second meal is usually Swedish meatballs stroganoff with mushrooms in a beef broth gravy with sour cream and fettucine pasta.

Here’s what I put together using this recipe as a springboard:

  1. I cut the recipe in half, using 1 pound of ground turkey, not 2 lbs.
  2. Used 3/4 cup of whole milk ricotta
  3. 1 egg, 1/2 freshly grated onion, 1 garlic clove grated by hand
  4. 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs from homemade oatmeal bread
  5. 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  6. 3 sprigs of fresh thyme – leaves stripped from stems
  7. Lawry’s garlic salt and cracked pepper
  8. Mixed everything gently together with my hands; formed walnut sized meatballs and placed them on baking sheets spread with olive oil. Be sure to spray the sheet before putting the meatballs on it – otherwise, they stick like glue when they’re baked!
  9. Baked at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown

Tonight, I’ll heat up the meatballs (about 4 each) in Ragu traditional tomato sauce, adding some herbs and garlic to the sauce. I’ll ask G. if he wants angel hair or thin spaghetti with it – and we’ll grate lots of parmesan sauce with the microplane while we eat. A small plain butter lettuce salad with white balsamic vinegar, fig vinegar and fresh lemon mixed with olive and walnut oil goes on the side. Hope these meatballs are as tasty as they smelled coming out of the oven just now!

Footnote: The meatballs in the pan stuck when I removed them – let them cool too long – but the ones on the parchment paper came up easily. Also, I often saute some fresh zucchini and mushrooms, both sliced thinly, to augment the meatballs in the spaghetti sauce and the swedish meatball stroganoff.

And here’s a loaf of oatmeal bread fresh from the oven around 4:30 this afternoon. I used a hand mixer to mix the dough and let the bread rise: the crumb and taste of this loaf was the best we’ve ever had. I’m circling the wagons on making beautiful bread without a lot of time or fuss. Makes great toast too!