2018-11-30 / Commentary

Processing the possibilities

I’m just saying...
Julia Rogers Hook

I made an AMAZING discovery over Thanksgiving this year. It’s this thing called a “food processer.”

I had NO IDEA this magnificent machine existed. I don’t know HOW I didn’t know about it… I’ve heard people talking about it, and I’ve even seen what it can do. I’m just not a cook, so I really don’t pay much attention when people start talking about recipes or cooking tips. I tend to zone out on those conversations as I do when people start talking about their children or grandchildren. Baby’s first word and how to bake a cake are foreign conversations to me.

I have a couple of dishes that I do during the holidays. I do a pretty good macaroni and cheese, and my husband, Marty, says he loves my dressing. I only make these things for special occasions because they are quite a bit of work. All that cheese grating and vegetable chopping…it’s just too much work if you ask me.

Last year during the holidays, my neighbor Louise, who is a caterer and incredible chef, came over while I was grating the cheese for my macaroni. She saw me standing there over my little hand grater with the tiny little tray under it and then eyed the blocks of cheese on the counter waiting to be grated. With a sigh… that may have been a scoff…she took my cheese blocks and left. I was curious, but I diligently kept grating away while she was gone.

When she came back in ten minutes she had a HUGE bowl of grated cheese. GRATED cheese! It was my cheese that just minutes earlier had been in hard little blocks!

“How…what… HOW?” I was sputtering in astonishment.

“Julia you need a food processor…you need to ask for one for Christmas!”

And so I did. And I got one. But…I got it on Christmas, and my holiday culinary days were done for the year so my food processor was carefully stored away. I never gave it a thought until it was time to make my traditional Thanksgiving offerings to take to my sister in-law’s house (My family knows that for any gatherings, I ALWAYS make the dressing and the macaroni because those are the only two dishes I know HOW to make.).

We remodeled our kitchen this summer, so this year before I could make anything, I had to figure out the new stove and ovens. The stove is some spiffy new type called an “induction cooktop” that only uses certain pans. We didn’t know this of course until it was installed and the granite counters had been cut to its exact measurements. As I said…when the conversation turns to cooking, I zone out so I’m sure that somewhere or sometime this summer I was just nodding my head when we were picking out the stovetop. It was black and shiny and matched the countertops so I was fine with it.

So after a few false starts, I had the new kitchen down. The day before Thanksgiving, as my pasta was simmering and my vegetables were all washed and waiting, I fetched my food processor. I figured it was going to be annoying to use and difficult to operate, but it wasn’t! Everything fit together just the way the little arrows pointed.

Cautiously and skeptically I reached for a stalk of celery. I inserted it where the directions told me to and hit the power button.

The celery practically disappeared in an instant!

I grabbed another stalk. And another…and another and before I knew it, ALL of the celery was chopped into fine little slivers that would sauté beautifully in butter. Next came the onions. It was the same thing…almost immediately I had chopped onions.

In. Sheer. SECONDS!

I rushed to the refrigerator and got my cheese blocks. I quickly washed out the bowl on the food processor and reassembled it with a grating blade. My hands were trembling in anticipation as I anxiously put a block of cheese into the mouth of the machine. I hit the power button. WHOOSH! The cheese was grated! Just like that… DONE!

I was stunned. Then I was astounded. Then I was jubilant! This machine could do ANYTHING! And it was actually FUN!

It was SO much fun that I over-grated. I was so into the slicing and dicing and grating that I sliced and diced enough vegetables and grated enough cheese to make TWO casseroles of each! I had enough macaroni and cheese and holiday dressing to feed 50 people! And most of the 50 could probably have seconds!

But I had a blast doing it! And I’m going to do it again. That food processor made things SO easy that I think I’m REALLY going to learn to cook now! I need to expand my horizons beyond my two dishes. And I’m going to start the minute we’re finished eating all of the second pans of dressing and macaroni from Thanksgiving.

Maybe this year I’ll ask for a measuring cup for Christmas….

I’m just saying….

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