Friends of mine have invested in the Lidl version of the Thermomix – MrCuisine. Not nearly as fancy with no on-line platform and step by step instructions on a little screen, maybe not such a powerful motor but it gives a lot of the functions at a fraction of the price. The low price means that there is no local rep to give you little classes to teach you how to make the most of it. As a result, a little cooking group formed.
A bit tentative of their purchase and not overly confident cooks they decided to get together for some ‘ateliers’. Basically, get together and cook. It forces them to spend some time finding a recipe and use the machine but with the company of others trying to make the most of the new toy. I don’t have a machine but they let me join in the fun, they know I love food and am not afraid of new recipes or playing with cooking equipment.
Just like the Thermomix, it can be a bit daunting using a machine like this. There are you are pushed for time and you know the machine can help but the first few times you use it takes longer than the die hard throw together quick dinners and assembly meals you do on a busy evening. You have to find time to learn to use it and if you are not a confident cook, which may be part of the reason for the purchase, so that the machine could do some of it for you, and afraid of epic fails, you let it sit on the worktop looking pretty.
It has been a great idea. Each time, the three owners choose a recipe, bring the ingredients and we cook together. There is no shame in something being a flop, there are no fussy kids to feed – it takes the pressure off. In the process, they are learning to find the best bits about the machine for their own cooking, testing recipes and maybe working out easier ways of doing things. Then maybe they can start choosing favourite recipes and adapting them to make the most of the machine.
This session was prompted by three people buying a machine at the same time and needing to try it out and troubleshoot the recipes etc. But you don’t need a new kitchen gadget to benefit from cooking together. Trying new recipes with friends, sharing ideas and trying them out is a fun way to spend some time. Are you and your friends dealing with fussy eaters, struggling with quick dinner ideas, packed lunch ideas, have a dinner party to plan? Feeling not so confident, let’s face it – picky kids, time pressured weekdays, non-verbal teenagers, partners working late – can take out the joy and erode the confidence in even the most happy cooks.
Make it a regular event, pull out those dusty cook books that you only ever cook one or two things from. Try new things. Pick a theme, discuss little modifications to the recipe to make it easier or more acceptable to the people you have to feed day to day. Get together one evening – with a bottle of wine perhaps – or for a morning ending with lunch. It’s fun. Like a book club but with food!
For our last session all together, we cooked tagliatelle avec epinards et gorgonzola, Borscht and Tiramisu. The soup was supposed to be for starters but it took too long so the pasta was our entree. The tiramisu was a real hit.
This week was just two of us so we didn’t do lunch but had a go at Hot Cross Buns – bit of a fail, they tasted good, warm from the oven but we really hadn’t let them have enough time to rise. A little on the heavy side – once cold they were more like stones!!! But we were among friends. I know have to do like I did with my scones – seek out the best recipes and make some really good ones. Watch this space – may be a bit after Easter but Hot Cross Buns are so yummy it seems a shame to stop eating them too soon.
Really not worthy of the cross on top so it was good I hadn’t the time to make the crosses. But there will be a next time and they will be much better.