Somewhere along the line, during a discussion of what sort of gifts were appropriate for men to give their wives/girlfriends, it came up that they should never give kitchen appliances. This was supposed to be the height of male ignorance and tactlessness.
I promptly made a point of letting my husband know that I LOVE kitchen appliances, and that if he ever saw fit to give me one for a gift, I would be absolutely thrilled. Some favorite gifts over the years have been a food processor, blender and a stove top popcorn maker (which is used so often, it never gets put away). One of the most useful gifts ever - besides the popcorn maker - has been a simple pair of good quality kitchen shears. I really enjoy and appreciate useful gifts like that.
With that in mind, I just have to show off my new toy. Here she is...
Isn't she a beauty? My very own KitchenAide Artisan Mixer. You know what the best part is, though? It was FREE! Retail cost was about $450. I got it with my loyalty points from our grocery store. It took me about a year and a half to save them up. There actually isn't a whole lot we buy from the grocery store, since I buy a lot of stuff from my own business instead, but with the judicious use of points coupons and the like, we finally got it. Which means that this year, we'll be able to make our Christmas tourtierre!! We actually bought a Mixmaster our first Christmas after the move and it broke when we started the second batch of hot water pastry dough. We had to finish the rest manually, and there's no way we were going to do that again. We only made 10 tourtierre that year, too. I was able to return it and get my money back the next day. Last year, we didn't even try to make tourtierre. By then, we already had decided on getting the Artisan mixer and weren't going to settle for anything less. Not for that job!
As you can see, this beast can handle dough! The first day we got it, I used one of the recipes that came with the mixer to make up a 2 loaf batch of bread. I didn't make loaves, though. I made buns.
Youngest helped me shape them, too. I managed to snag this picture before they were all gone. I wouldn't want to do more than a 2 loaf recipe in this thing (manually, we'd usually do a 4 loaf recipe), but that's ok. I don't mind making separate batches, as I'd be changing things in each batch for some variety. Toss in some herbs, maybe a handful of shredded cheese, different types of liquid... the variations are endless! That's the most fun of bread baking. I like a nice oatmeal/flax bread. The kids love cheese bread.
Hmmm.... I think it's time to make some more yogurt and yogurt cheese. The liquid from that is amazing when used in bread baking. Even better than using potato water.
The beauty of it is that it's so much faster using the dough hook. I actually enjoy kneading, but the machine does a better job faster than I do. The difference in texture is quite noticeable.
Now I'm working on getting enough points for an apartment size freezer. We'll need the freezer space for all the tourtierre we'll be making this year. :-D