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  • Katherine Dudley Hoehn

Processing Memories

Updated: Oct 3, 2019

The easiest way to shred cabbage is with the food processor. Preparing to attack a stunning head of cabbage, with my new Cuisinart, and make slaw, sautéed cabbage and soup, I was overcome by a flood of old memories.

I had a love affair with my original Cuisinart. In the 1980’s, it was expensive at about $250 (considering inflation, about $750 today). Partly for status, but mostly because it could do so many time-saving things, I wanted one - a lot. After all, James Beard and Julia Child had them.

More so than the microwave, it changed my life. With a powerful motor, it could cut time for food preparation and make it infinitely more creative, consistent and even fun. My family benefitted greatly from the results of the culinary adventures we shared.

My kitchen-based affair lasted through the birth of children and outlasted my marriage. My Cuisinart shared birthday and dinner parties, frequent parent visits, last minute requests for favorite dishes, making children’s treats such as peanut butter playdough (see recipe at the end) and a few food failures. I even wrote it into the property settlement for my divorce.

Julia Child’s Perfect Pie Crust, made in the Cuisinart, was my go-to “pie dough” (what we call it in the south). I didn’t make fruit pies, but my boy children loved my chicken pot pie. Carrot cake, another favorite, exercised its fine grating capabilities. Once I made a famously horrible batch of Thanksgiving mashed potatoes in the processor, realizing later that mashed potatoes have that name for a reason. Food processor potatoes are wallpaper paste.

My Cuisinart took up counter space and improved operations in my kitchens for more than 25 years. It got me through single parenting two rambunctious boys, several moves and job changes and last-minute meals before soccer, baseball and other sports practices. When parts of my world were crumbling, or seemed broken, it made the little things easier and was a constant, reliable workhorse.

I burned through blenders and mixers, but that Cuisinart never died. My dear friend Jean gave me her old Cuisinart, of the same vintage, and then I had parts for cannibalizing. After my college-age boys used my Cuisinart for a project, overstuffing it with water and torn up newspaper, I was pleased to have an extra bowl to replace my then horribly damaged one.

As my kitchen buddy passed the quarter century mark, I gave its counter space to the Kitchen Aide mixer and a Vitamix. Like the once-favorite velveteen rabbit, my Cuisinart was discarded. Food preparation was vastly different for a household of one.

After a few years without a Cuisinart, I missed it and recently bought a new one. With many fancy attachments, the cost was less than it was decades earlier and it proved that you get what you pay for.

Lightweight in both pounds and productivity, this thing is a dud. Its major benefit is that it renews memories of my old friend and the days with children running under my feet, a meal to prepare and a calendar full of family activities. Back then, my processor helped me save time, enjoy my children more and conquer otherwise boring kitchen tasks.

The best that I can say about the new one is that it grates cabbage pretty well and it sparks memories of the good times when its predecessor was king of my kitchen and the only appliance I ever really loved.


Mom's Peanut Butter Play Dough

Blend in food processor:

1 C peanut butter (not crunchy)

1/3 C powdered milk

2 Tbsp water

2/3 C powdered sugar

1 Tbsp honey

Roll it out, cut in shapes and eat.

Stores in refrigerator for 1-2 weeks or for one year in the freezer.

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