Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Electric Mayonnaise

One thing I can be a bit stubborn about is using electric appliances.  Well, not all of them; some electric appliances are my friends, like my oven and glass-top range--here in the Pacific Northwest, where most of the electricity is either hydroelectric or geothermal, an electric stove is probably more eco-friendly than burning propane, although there is something about cooking over an actual flame that would still be hard to say no to.  I'm not even talking about my toaster oven, or single-purpose things like my rice cooker, deep fryer, toaster, or slicer.  Now that I think on it, apparently I actually like using electric appliances a lot.  Maybe I should start again.

One thing I can be rather stubborn about is using powered mixing appliances in my kitchen.  I understand it's a lot easier to dump your ingredients in a food processor and push the button, instead of chopping things with a knife and cutting board.  I understand a hand mixer can whip eggs faster than I can do it with a whisk.  I understand that a bread machine is less effort than hand-kneading.  I understand the appliances make things easier, I just don't like the idea of having a machine do certain things for me.  I like having that connection with the food, turning it from raw ingredients into finished dishes with my own hands.  (Plus, I tend to hate the noise those things make--like fingernails on a chalkboard, if you ask me.)  So whenever a recipe says something like, "Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed," I tend to just pull out my whisk and go to it.  It just seems so much more satisfying and, well, magical to do it that way.

However, one thing that didn't quite turn out by hand was homemade mayonnaise.  I got it in my head that I wanted to try my hand at making my own, fresh, preservative-free mayonnaise, so I found a recipe, and started whisking away.  Over an hour later, I still had nothing but a bowl of oily liquid, and boy, was my arm tired.  I had a determination to try again later, but in the meantime, my sweetie decided to get me a gift, so now I have a lovely pink immersion blender (pictured right).  So, I made another attempt at the same traditional recipe, except using this electric blender instead of my whisk.  At first it thickened up beautifully, but by the time I had finished adding the oil it had collapsed into the same liquidy mess.  Before giving up permanently, though, I decided to give the far-too-easy-sounding recipe in the blender's instruction book a try.  It was the same ingredients, after all, just assembled a bit differently.  Miraculously enough, in less than five minutes start-to-finish, this motorized magic wand turned a cup full of oil with an egg at the bottom into a jar of creamy, delicious mayonnaise.  And the motor wasn't even unreasonably loud while it was doing it!  I may even end up re-thinking my stance on powered food-prep tools; seeing clouds of creamy mayo billow up into existence in the bottom of that cup felt plenty magical to me.

Of course, I am probably not going to be totally happy until I've successfully done it by hand at least once, just so I can say that I can do it.  But, surely a witch is nothing if not practical, so any tool--motorized or not--that can turn an hour's worth of heavy whisking into thirty seconds of "Poof, done!" has earned its keep in my kitchen. :)

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