Tonight a workhorse died in my kitchen.  She served me more than 20 years and has spent the past seven housed in my appliance garage, patiently awaiting the task of her trade: Food processing. Each time I hauled her out, I smiled at the Sunbeam logo on her white plastic frame and sighed with relief that she worked so simply.

She had seven speeds but I always worked her full out. If she had one fault, that was it. There was never  a detectable difference between running the motor at its lowest or highest speed, let alone all the numbers in between.  Seven, I came to understand, was Sunbeam’s lucky number.

For she did it all.  She grated carrots, celeriac and potatoes like a hungry predator set loose on its prey. Her purees were always smoother and silkier than that newcomer — the immersion blender– could produce. Doughs were done so fast, it was a race to get my finger on the off button before her  frenzied whirl destroyed what had taken seconds to create. And of late, drool started to pool in Kobe’s jowls the moment I pulled her out.  She macerated his broccoli mush and he loved her as only a canine could.

Admittedly, over the past few weeks, I’d detected her decline but chose to  ignore it. I didn’t want to face the inevitable. Were I not in denial, I might have alerted the handyman in the house and told him that recently her little red light still shone… yet she could only “pulse”. Gone were the days when the “on” button worked, letting her loose to whirl like mad.

Then today, mid-pesto, she just up and conked.  No light. No pulse. No on. No pesto!

What will I do?

How will I make humus, or my garlic and rosemary white bean dip? Can I manage a pastry cutter after following Bonnie Stern’s food processor pastry recipe for the past ten years? Will my gazpacho still say summer?  Will my pesto know how to emulsify? Will the pages of my copy of The Food Processor Bible by Norene Gilletz turn to dust on my shelves?

Judging from that book’s longevity (first printed in 1979 and now in its third edition) the food processor is alive and well in Canadian kitchens and I, too, can survive this minor setback.

Sacrilege as it seems mid-mourning, I am entertaining desperate thoughts of finding an immediate replacement. So I ask all ye out there in Blogland to tell me where to turn.  What brand works for you?

And in tribute to my dear Sunbeam, I offer up one of the first recipes I wrote for her.

Mado’s Humus

This is adapted from a recipe my friend Yanina gave me when we were two, naïve Mommies-in-waiting, blissfully pregnant and totally unprepared for what lay ahead.

1 clove garlic

1  19 oz/540 mL can chickpeas, rinsed and drained; or 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked

Juice of one lemon

2 tbsp each tahini and extra virgin olive oil

1+1/2 tsp ground roasted cumin

1 tsp paprika

Salt to taste

2 (or more) tbsp water

As the food processor motor runs (on seven!), toss a single garlic clove down the feeding tube to mince. Stop the motor and add chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, cumin and paprika to the work bowl. Blend until smooth then drizzle as much water down the feeding tube as you like to create a thick or thin consistency. (If you’re feeling luxuriant, forget the water and just add more oil.)

Humus is all about tasting and calibrating. If you’re using canned chickpeas, add less salt. When using cooked-from-dried chickpeas, add more liquid, since they’ll need it.

Freshly ground roasted cumin has a richer, nuttier, deeper flavour than store bought ground cumin. Heat up a few tablespoons of whole cumin seeds in a dry frying pan on medium high and shake and roast for a couple of minutes, until they turn golden brown (put raw cumin seeds nearby and you’ll be able to see the colour change more accurately).  It’s okay to let cumin seeds roast until they smoke a tiny bit, but do not burn. Buzz them up in a coffee grinder and enjoy the heady aroma.

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I live to cook. I love to write. Eating is one of my favourite things to do. All three will merge on this blog.

8 thoughts on “R.I.P.

  1. My condolences! I’m sure she’s in food processor heaven! And I think you should share your garlic rosemary white bean dip recipe too. Can’t wait to try the hummous!

  2. Yikes — it’s been 21 years since we were “blissfully pregnant” carrying our daughters! Love your idea about roasting the cumin. Will try that. Like Glennis, I would like the garlic rosemary white bean recipe . Thanks for providing a great blog Mado.

  3. If you can find a vintage Cuisinart – something predating the ergonomic design change – go for it. I found a great one for my son at a garage sale for $5 that works like a demon. My own Cuisinart is well over 20 years old and shows no sign of slowing down (my fingers are crossed as I type this). You’ll have to get replacement parts on Ebay if anything goes, but it’s an adventure and you won’t find a better processor anywhere.

    1. We’ve already checked EBay for replacement parts and nada!! Turns out my Sunbeam is one of a kind. But dear handyman has already fixed it by jamming a little piece of wood in just the right spot so that we’ve got the motor running and the lid back on tight. I’ve pulled her out of the garbage and she’s back on my counter, ready to work!

  4. I’m with Evelyn… nothing like an old Cuisinart (pre-tart-up). Mine is over 20 years old too and still surviving all the abuse I can dish out.

  5. I have had a Braun food processor and have loved it for about 25 years (before Nick and I got together anyway). It has made your wonderful humus and pita bread to go with it as well as paper pulp to make handmade paper. The attachment to hold the graters broke a few months ago, and the main container has broken pieces, but so far the motor is holding up fine. I was just thinking the day before yesterday when making humus and pita if I will ever be able to replace it, as I find very few appliances last for 25 years anymore. Good luck with the search!

  6. Bennett has been whining about the poor quality of grocery store hummus so I think it is time to get him making his own. We will start here. But Mado, what do you think my beloved smoky hot paprika might be like in this? I will report.

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