Sunday, 12 October 2014

Bulk butter, again

It's been a couple of months since I tried using Thermy (instead of my Kitchen Aid) to make butter in bulk.  We were running out, so on Friday I went to Costco and bought 8 litres of double cream, which I left on the side in the kitchen.

I got ready this morning, cleaning all the surfaces and then Dettoxing them, and re-reading my notes from last time. .  I started to open the cream - which I noted was from a different Dairy to usual, and found the ream was very very thick.  I had trouble getting it out of the bottles,  DH helped by squeezing the bottles for me. It must have been warm and/or sunny in the kitchen yesterday.

I set up my production line, and followed my "Next time" notes.  I was concerned that it wouldn't work with the overly  thickened cream.  However, the first litre churned very quickly.

I had 8 litres instead of my usual 10.  Thermy can only cope with 1 litre at a time (instead of my Kitchen Aid's 1.5 litres), so there were more separate batches.  I was able to use both my Thermy bowls though, so one litre was churtning while I was washing (by hand) the previous litre.  The buttermilk extraction was less messy.    

The resulting butter was a bit soft, but the water had run clear. Maybe it was just because it was from a different supplier?  The softness meant I lost some of the butter through the colander as I washed it, more than usual. 

After washing, it sits in the colander, draining, until the next batch needs to be washed.

At that point, batch A gets moved into another colander. This extra step was so I could monitor how much butter wsa draining out.

When batch C needs to be washed, batch A gets put onto a flat colander in the fridge to firm up and drain some more, and everythhing moves along. 

When batch E reaches the fridge colander, there isn't any room, so batches A and B were weighed into my chilled KitchenAid bowl, and put on to beat salt in.  At this point, I could see that each litre had produced a bit more butter than I was expecting, which isn't a good thing.  Either there is buttermilk in there,  or the extra-soft butter was absorbing more water when I washed it. 

When the salted butter had beaten enough,  I wasn't ready to start potting.  So, I tipped it into a bowl and put it in the fridge,  and started C and D salting.

When I ran out of butter to churn and wash, I started packing the butter.  This freed up a bowl each time to tip the beaten and salted butter into,  to go into the fridge.  Using the KA to salt the butter was fantastic, and this really sped up the overall process.

The packed butter also went in to the fridge.

When the last batches had been salted,  I washed up. Things that were dishwasher proof were rinsed of butter and put in the dishwasher (don't put lots of butter in the dishwasher, it clogs the pipes).  

I then moved the salted, packed, butter into the freeer, and wiped doen the fridge.

I won't know about the quality of the butter (excess water,  retained buttermilk), until I start using it in a few days.   

I hope it's OK.  Overall, it was definitiely quicker and cleaner than using the KitchenAid to do the churning, and I'd really like to be able to carry on with this process.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Catch up

Still Thermomixing.

Mostly recipes I've tried before. 

I've made several batches of ginger biscuits.  These are so easy.

We don't buy biscuits, and I rarely make them.  Don't get me wrong. I love them.  That's the problem.

I have to stop myself making them because I sure as heck can't stop myself eating them once they've been made!

Steamed chicken for the cat (she wasn't well).  I mean, she wasn't well so she was put on a chicken diet. Not "she wasn't well becaise she ate the chicken".

I made a Goulash,  which was OK.

I've used Thermy a couple of times to whip up garlic, onion, parsley and butter to make Chicken Kiev.  And to make the breadcrumbs for CK of course.

I made gravy in it.

I've made smoothies and hor chocolate.

I used it to make bread dough a couple of times.  It's not difficult to use- actually it's very quick and easy - but I also like the convenience of using my breadmaker to make dough.  I've turned millet seeds into mullet flour for Rye and Millet loaf (my current flavour of the month).

Thermy is used most days, and often several times a day.    It doesn't get used if we're eating home made "ready meals" from the freezer,  or if we're having something like Toad out of the Hole.   I know you can make yorkshire pudding batter in it,  but actually it's easier and cleaner just to get out Kenny (My handheld electric whisks).

I've looked at the TM5.  There are a number of things about it which I think are probably a big improvement: the scale is better on the TM5 (the TM31 only goes up in 5g incremements and cannot be used while the machine is cooking);  it's quieter;  the end-of-programme noise is potentially less irritating;  the bowl is bigger; the locking mechanism is better & easier; it has abroader temperature range.

I don't think it looks so good, and I'm not really that excited about the recipe chip technology,  I guess it depends how that all develops.

I'll keep watching and see what happens.

When the new TM5 was launched, my Demonstrator emailed me, starting her email with "long time no see". She wanted me to arrange a demo.    Either she was  being facetious / embarrassed that it was only 5 weeks since I had bought my TM31, or she was being sloppy.  I thought it might be a generic email that she sent everyone,  but she did mention that she'd met someone who knew me (my daughter in law, actually).

As she hadn't been in touch at all since I bought Thermy, not even to ask how I was getting on with it and whether I needed any help,  I haven't got round to replying.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Sugar overload

EGS made some rather tasty ginger cookies using this recipe  He made these himself, asking for advice when he wasn't sure.

And then the next day, he made "shortbread biscuits" from the My Way Of Cooking book.  He made this without any supervision at all, although he did ask a few questions on the way.   I'm finding MWOC a bit hit and miss, the instructions aren't detailed enough for a newbie.   We found this hopeless for cutting out cookies.  We considered using a shorbtread mould, but I was concerened it would just stick,

In the end EGScame up with the bright idea of just making them like we had done the ginger biscuits, a small ball, fork pressed down.   We ended up cooking these for about 17 minutes.. They were very good,  but the centres were a bit underbaked. 

I might use this recipe again, but I'd probably try a couple  of others first.

The weekend's thermomixing was finished with a couple of jugs of passata.

And I can report that day-old brownie was even better than fresh brownie. For me, anyway/

Friday, 29 August 2014

Sweet tooth

Eldest Grandson, (EG), has been staying for a few days.  He has a sweet tooth, so we've been baking.

First up was Chocolate Chip Cookies.  The internet is awash with Thermy cookie recipes,  and eventually I chose this one because it had such high ratings:

We used white chocolate and 70% dark chocolate. I had some white chocolate cooking buttons, so we chopped those in Thermy.  Thh first attemp was hopeless, I really overdid it.  We put those aside to use in something else, and I did them again.

Surprisingly easy, and they were lovely!

The next day (Thursday, yesterday), we made milkshakes. EG wanted to use up the excess chopped white chocolate, so I whipped up some milk, frozen banana, and the white chocolate from the previous day.  I blended for a long time (about 3 minutes, which my ears were sure was much longer) to give the chocolate chance to blend.

It was too sweet for me, but EG really liked it.

For the main sweet treat of the day, EG went been through lots of Thermy recipe books and had picked recipe after recipe.  Eventually he settled on making brownies, and picked the Chocolate and Pecan recipe from the I love Chocolate, I love Thermomix book.

MH supervised this.  The result was outstanding.  Incredibly rich (thank goodness we had decided to cut them into single bite squares), they were amazing!  We popped some round to my next door neighbours, and they reported back that they were the best they had had. I'm sure part f that was kindness, but there is probably some truth in it as well.

I'm not sure what oday's choice will be.

Hopefully something sans chocolate. 

Monday, 25 August 2014

Mushroom Risotto and Arancini. Again.

Dh was away, so I used Thermy to make mushroom risotto, usin gthe recipe in the Fast and Easy cookbook. I used half dried porcini mushrooms and half fresh mushrooms.   Unlike last time, this time I let it stand for 5 minutes, and it was lovely.

I put the leftover risotto, when cold, in the fridge.  The next day, I made arancini - deep fried risotto balls - and some Tzaziki to serve with it.  Thermy helped out again, making the tzaiki, and making the breasdcrumb/parmesan/parsley coating.   Very good.    They could have done with  a bit more seasoning, so I'll do that next time...remembering that I want to do it while the lefotver risotto is still warm, or certainly befor it goes into the fridge overnight.

I couldn't eat them all, despite pigging out.  I put the remaining cooked balls in the fridge,  and I've just eaten them cold.   They were amazing!  If they were smaller, they would make excellent cold buffet or picninc food...  they'd need to be mini scotch egg sized I think.

I had toyed with the idea of making some risotto balls and freezing them, before the deep frying stage.   Maybe I'll have enough leftover next time to try that.


Saturday, 23 August 2014

Little things

Thermy has been in action so much that I've often ended up with both bowls in the dishwasher.
Nothing major this week, just little things.

I made an enormous Teviot pie on Wednesday. Teviot pie is a minced beef pie with a suet crust pastry.

I chickened out of using Thermy to chop my kilo of beef braising steak into mince, fearing that it might puree it.  I used my Sage food processor, which has a blades at two levels,  which means that you don't end up with puree at the bottom and mince at the top.  I will try Thermy another time, on a smaller quantity.

Thermy was used to make the mire poix (or is it soffrito) which was fried in oil at the beginning. It was made up of onion, celery and carrot.  I  used it to chop garlic and courgettes, and  mushrooms.  I also ground 40g red lentils to a fine powder to use as  a thickener. Definite successes.

It was also used to make a simple banana milkshake (milk and frozen banana) for granddaughter Kaitlyn, and a simple strawberry milkshake (milk and frozen strawberry) for grandson Hayden.  Definite success.

I put some cheese and cherry tomatoes in and blitzed it, which made an excellent sandwich filling. It didn't turn into a cream, because i didn't add anything else to help it do that... but it made it very easy to spread and to get a good even coating, right to the edge.  It was less fiddly than grated cheese, and more even (and economical) than sliced cheese. Definite success.

Later,  I used the same thing to make cheese on toast. It was much easier than working with grated cheese (which I invariably drop onto the hot grill pan), or sliced cheese.  Definite success.

Last night I made a small amount of cake mix, as I had a craving for it.  I've been eating a lot of carp (crisps, sugary bread)  lately, and I shouldn't have given in to the craving.

MH used it to cook fish, which he was pleased with.  I was out, so I don't have any more information about it, lol.

Another good week.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Bits and pieces

Yesterday we had Arancini (deep fried risotto balls) , using the leftover risotto.    I seasoned it, even more, this time.   

I made parsley and parmesan breadcrumbs in Thermy (fantastic, thank you).

Next time, I think I'll add the additional seasoning to the leftover risotto before I put it in the fridge.   This is because the risotto was very well set, perfect for forming into balls... but I had to stir it up to stir in the seasonings, and that made it all loose again.

They were very good. 


I also made another batch of hummus,  this time I added some moroccan seasoning.   I think it was a bit too thick, I should have slackened it off more. I also should have added more lemon juice.  

I'd bought a new jar of Tahini, as I hadn't got round to ordering sesame seeds to make my own. (That's now rectified - or it will be when my Wholefoods order arrives - so I'll be in good shape when the Tahini jar runs out).  

While I was shopping, I also took some photos of Waitrose's hummus varieties - the backs of the packs, anyway, so I could see what they put in theirs.  I saw that I can use Tahini to make Baba Ganoush, so I bought an aubergine as well...but I haven't go round to it yet.   Hopefully I will do so before the Aubergine walks out of the fridge.

This time, I cut the ginger into hald and 1 inch pieces before freezing. Ha!

 Millet Flour
I decided to try Rye and Millet bread, in my breadmaker.  I had both millet flakes and millet seeds, from when I was buying grains to tempt my housechook to eat.    I  needed some millet flour as well,  and was childishly excited that I could use Thermy to do this.    I feel very proud of my 50 grammes of millet flour.  No idea what the bread is going to taste like, but that isn't the point.

It's just gone into the oven, so I'll find out later.

Pizza Dough
I took the frozen pizza dough out of the freezer, so it could defrost for dinner tonight.  The wrapping said "needs second rise",  so I after it was defrosted, I put it in a bowl in the airing cupboard. 

I realised that it would probably have been quicker to have made fresh dough from scratch. I used to make my pizza dough by hand, painstakingly stirring the middle while the flour gradually slips in.  Then I started to cheat, and used my KitchenAid, on the basis that the planetary action is sort of similar to doing it by hand.  In both these cases it's been worthwhile making double and freezing one.    Now I'm not so sure. It was really quick in Thermy, and the taste and texture was fine.  

That's a bit of a Thermy revelation.  


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Chicken Risotto, revisited

So, Sunday's roast chicken  became yesterday's chicken with a cheese sauce (courtesy of Thermy), and today's second attempt at chicken risotto.

This time, I used Carnaroli rice, and more seasoning.  I followed (sort of) Quirky Cooking's recipe for Chicken and Mushroom Risotto. I say "sort of" because I only had about 90g of mushrooms,  I used 400g homemade chicken stock  and some tomato passata as part of the cooking liquid, and I used leftoevr chicken which I added in the final 5 minutes of cooking time. And I added grated parmesan at the end.

The texture was much, much better than the previous attempt.   I think that was partly down to rhe Carnaroli rice instead of Arborio. And partly because I put it in a serving dish for 5 minutes before serving.

The flavour was better, thanks to more seasoning and dry white wine (instead of the floral Gewurtztraminer from last time).

It was still a little lacking in seasoning, so next time I think I'll use even more chicken stock (and less water),  and/or I'll add a Knorr chicken stock pot, and/or more salt and pepper. I might also throw in some herbs.

But it was definitely a success, and I will use it again.

And I have leftovers to make risotto balls again.

Double yum!
More salt and pepper
More chicken stock (and/or stockpot and or maybe use soaked dried muchrooms and their liquor)
Herbs. Maybe mushroom ketchup or similar.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Yorskhire Puddings

We followed the recipe in the Fast and Easy cookbook.  I halved the quantity, and could see that there was a lot more liquid than we would normally use.  I decided to follow the recipe and see how it turned out.

It was OK... but I will reduce the liquid next time. I'll also use either buttermilk or milk and water.

Roast Chicken, again

We tried a different recipe this time, this time based on the "One chicken - 3 ways" recipe that I found online.

This was a much smaller chicken, and it fitted into the varoma properly.

The recipe said to stuff it, but I didn't.  Instead, I put half an onion, some tarragon, some thyme, some sage and some garlic butter in the cavity. I put a puece of garlic butter under the skin against each breast. Salt and pepper.

We steamed it for just over half an hour, then put it in the oven at 160 fan (180 equivalent), to brown. I'd already put the roasting tray in to warm up

We had one breast between us as part of a quick roast dinner.  We'll have the other one tomorrow in a cheese sauce, followed later in the week by risotto and then maybe risotto balls again.

I liked this method more than the other, and I will use it again.

Next time I will put some butter on the bird just before it goes into roast.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Courgette Bread

We have plenty of courgettes, so I thought i'd make this.

It's from one of Lesley Shapter's Bread Machine books.

I didn't have any buttermilk left, so I substituted ordinary milk with a bit of yoghurt mixed in. It didn't make much of a dent in the courgette pile.

Where did Thermy fit in?  I used thermy to grate the courgette.  It took all of five seconds to get super small chopped courgettes . (Obviously I had to rinse out Thermy afterwards, so possibly not much of a time saving - but certainly effort saving)

My breadmaker did a sterling job of making this while we went out for the evening.

Just had some for my breakfast.  If you didn't know it had courgette in it, you wouldn't guess it had courgette in it.  A lovely, light, multigrain loaf.

Except I put the breadmaker on the ordinary setting instead of the "raisin" setting.  So the multigrains are still sitting in the raisin dispenser.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Dips - Hummus, and Cucumber Raita

I made Hummus yesterday in Thermy, using a tin of chickpeas, a jar of out of data Tahini,  some lemon juice, some garlic.

I wasn't too sure about it. I don't really like the texture of hummus, always reminds me of baked beans (shudder).

Today, after 24 hours in the fridge, it wasn't bad at all.  MH liked it, which was a bit of a miracle.

I have a hummus recipe book on my kindle, and I think I'll try some alternative flavourings.

I'm wondering whether to buy more tahini, or whether to buy sesame seeds and  make my own.

Watch this space!

I also made cucumber raita.  I can't remember how long the instructions said to blitz for, it was seconds,  it was too long.  I had a kind of pulverized cucumber.

However, it worked surprisingly well.  I'll try mint and cucumber next time.

Well done Thermy!


Today I made Arancini, or risotto balls.

I had these when out for lunch last Friday,  and I wanted to try them myself.  In fact, the reason we had risotto earlier in the week was so that I would have leftover risotto to make Arancini.

Cold risotto, shaped into balls, then flour-egg-breadcrumbed, and deep fried.

I should have added extra seasoning to the cold risotto, but they were still delicious.  I suspect they will become a staple second-risotto dish and will stretch our chicken for a further day.

Thermy didn'r help with this, but it did make the accompaniments.

More on that in a moment.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Coleslaw, revisited

I tried Coleslaw again today.

I used Delia's Four Star Slaw recipe (from her Christmas cookbook)  as a base.

I didn't have one of the "stars", celeriac, nor did I have any soured cream. Nor spring onions.  But, apart from that, I used her ingredients and proportions.

I halved her recipe and, with my substitutions, this is roughly what I did.

  • Peeled about 150g of carrots, then cut them into 2 inch pieces.  I dropped these on the running blades at about speed 6 to make them a bit smaller.  They need to still be too big, as there will be further chopping shortly.  Scrape down bowl.
  • Added about 150g of white cabbage, 
  • Added half a stick of celery (cut into 1 inch pieces, should probably have done this with the carrot
  • Added some red onion - I didn't weigh it, sorry
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon mayo
  • 1 tablespoon natural yoghurt (I used greek style)
  • A further 75g of yogurt to compensate for no soured cream
  • 1 tablespoon oilive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder1/2 tablespoon cider apple vinegar (should have been white wine vinegar, but I picked up the wrong bottle)
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • I added some parsley to enhance the colour
  • salt and pepper.

I blitzed on speed 4 four about 6 seconds.

Lovely and fresh.  If you like your coleslaw a bit sweeter, I'd probably replace some of the yoghurt with mayonnaise.

Naan Bread

I usually make the dough for naan bread in my breadmaker. I then put the rolled out naan into an oven (which has been on its hottest setting)  for a few minutes, then under the grill (which has also been on for 10 minutes or so to get really really  hot.

The recipe in the Indian Cooking cookbook was very similar, slightly different proportions perhaps. The cooking method was the same as I already use.

It worked really well.  Lovely fluffy naans.   I also brushed the finished naans with melted ghee, which the Thermy boook didn't mention but I normally do anyway.

The downside of the Thermy method is that I had to use (and then clean) a bowl for rising, and I had dirtied Thermy.

The upside of the Thermy method is that the overall time is a little shorter than using the breadmaker.

This is a close call.


I think it might depend on whether I was already using Thermy,  and how long I had until I needed the naans.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Chicken Risotto

It's finally time to try cooking risotto in Thermy.

I used the recipe in the Fast and Easy  cookbook, substituting cooked chicken for the asparagus. And using part oil/butter (as per the Milanesi recipe)  instead of all oil. And I didn't have any dry white wine, so I used Gewurtztraminer, which is an aromatic, floral wine.

The process worked well, and it was fast.

I wasn't worried by the soupiness of the risotto, indeed the recipe warned that it would be so.

Upon reflection and tasting I would
  • ignore the instruction to serve immediately, and instead let it stand for 5 minutes
  • allow an extra minute or two cooking time because I was using real, home made, chicken stock...and it was cold from the fridge.
  • go to the shop and buy some dry white wine instead of using my very-not-cheap Gewurtz.
 It was OK.

It wasn't exactly a great success, but it wasn't a fail.

I've saved some risotto to see if I can make deep fried risotto balls.

Buttermilk Bread

While I have some buttermilk left, I like to make Buttermilk Bread.  I usually do this in my bread machine, but I thought I'd see what happens in Thermy.

I'm not convinced that Thermy will replace my breadmaker.  If I didn't have one,  Thermy would possibly make buying one unnecessary, but I like the convenience.

Anyway. I started off with my usual recipe, although I swapped out 50g of flour for 50g of milled seeds.  I think this was a mistake, I should have added the milled seeds as an extra and not replaced the flour.

All the ingredients went into Thermy, and I mixed on speed 3 for 20 seconds to combine. I then put it on to knead for 1.5 minutes, all as per Fast and Easy Cooking instructed.

The dough was very wet. Too wet. I tipped it out onto a floured surface, and kneaded more flour in.   This is why I think the seeds should have been extra rather than a flour substitute.

I then put the dough into a floured banneton,  put it in a huge plastic bag and tied, and left on the windowsill to rise.

It didn't.

I put it in the airing cupboard to rise.

It didn't.

I put the oven on and put the breadstone in. Much, much later I remembered to go and get the dough out of the airing cupboard,

It hadn't risen.

I cooked it anyway,

The resultant texture was a bit like soda bread,  so I think it was a yeast activation fail.

I hadn't warmed anything and I used cold buttermilk and a non-chemical yeast.  The fault was most likely mine.

It tasted OK, but not at all how it should have done.

I think I'll go back to brad basics with Thermy, and start from the beginning.  In the meantime, I'll continue with my breadmaker.   

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Roast Chicken

We've been approaching the Thermy thing by deciding what we want to cook and then working out if it is possible to do it in Thermy.

I wanted to make chicken risotto, mainly because I wanted to have leftover risotto to make deep fried risotto balls (Arancini di Riso). I had these for lunch o Friday, and they were amazing.

Now, the Thermy is well known for its ability to produce risotto, so I wanted to make risotto.  And to make risotto, I really needed some cooked chicken.   So, I had a look to see what was possible with whole chickens.

I found a range of recipes for "Roast Chicken", which involve steaming a chicken for about a hour, then sticking it in a hot oven to brown.   Let's give that a go.

We hoiked our last whole chicken out of the freezer.  We raise our own table birds, and this lad was rather large (by our slow grown chicken standards): well over 5 pounds.  He seemed to fit in the Varoma whilst frozen, so we left him out to defrost.

The defrosted chook was a tad too large for the Varoma.  This must be on the wishlist for any new model, some sort of extension to make the varoma higher. I did look, but couldn't see any hacks for it. We cut the leg off, and then we managed by scrnching up foil.

We used a honey and soy "marinade", and steamed for 1 hour.  A skewer showed that most of the chicken was cooked, but one leg was still pink. 10 more minutes.  Still pink, so we turned it round, ten more minutes.  It then was still slightly pink, but we put it in the hot oven, along with the rest of the bird, for 10 minutes. We were thinking we could leave it in for longer if necessary.

However, all was well.

The chicken was very moist.  I think I'd  put it in to brown for longer next time,  and I might experiment with bastes.

But I would definitely consider doing it this way again.

One "note to self": make the Yorkshure pudding batter using Thermy, before you put the chicken on.

Passata en masse

The Thermy passata worked really well!   We divided it into three. One lot went in the feezer, one lot was used with pasta, and the third lot was used with meatballs and rice.

MH and  I were discussing whether, for the mass production we do,  it was better to make it in small batches in Thermy or to oven roast and then use the passata machine.  He grows kilos and kilos and kilos of tomatoes, paste varieties, specifically so we can make our own delicious tomato sauce. Home grown tomatoes have all that gorgeous flavour....

We speculated that there are advantages and disadvantages to both theThermy method and our own hand made method.

We decided to try Thermy for a bit of batch passata-ing today. We used the Tomato Sauce recipe in My Way of Cooking as a base.

The main downside for Thermy is that it can really only deal with 1kg of tomatoes at a time.  However, it processes the tomato skins and pips resulting in a thicker sauce (and there is less washing up).

Usually we (well, MH actually, I just act as sous chef and washer upper) would work with 3-5kg of tomatoes in one go.   Today, MH decided to try working with 3kg of tomatoes in 3 batches in Thermy. 

For the Oven method, these would be cut and placed on three enormous baking trays, each of which takes up the full width and depth of the oven (the trays replace the shelves).

Cutting time was slightly quicker with Thermy, because we didn't need to arrange the tomatoes on the trays.  The garlic didn't need as much preparation either.  We could also get the second bowl ready while the first was cooking

Cooking time - our non-Thermy method is faster on the cooking part. We had to do 3 x half hours with Thermy, and we would probably have spent 45 minutes with the oven.

Processing time - a minute in Thermy, much longer by hand.  Even though we had to do the processing 3 times (once for each bowl), it was much faster.

Preserving time - with Thermy, we had to reheat the tomatoes. WIth the hand method, they were already hot and ready to go into jars for canning.  The rest of the preserving time is the same for both,

Yield Even though Thermy does not discard the skins, the end product is much thicker and therefore the yield is lower.  HOWEVER, unless we're making chilli or something which calls for a tin of tomatoes,  we usually reduce the sauce to make it thicker anyway. This means there is an additional time saving for Thermy here, because the reduction time at the point of using the sauce will be less with the Thermy-fied tomatoes.

Cleaning up  - Thermy wins hands down.  2 Thermy bowls, which are fairly small and can fit in to the dishwasher together, plus one large saucepan (from heating up).    When we do this by hand, I have 3 huge baking trays to clean,  plus the passata machine,  plus the bowl which holds the passata-ed tomatoes, plus the bowl which holds the discarded skins and pips.    I also have to give the oven sides and inside door a good wipe down.

On the prep and cleaning, I think Thermy comes out on top. The time-and-effort saving on this outweighs the fact that we had to do 3 batches.

Truth be told, I'm a little sad that it makes the tomato transformation process a bit more of a mechanical thing rather than a hand-made labour of love.      However, I love that we are making good use of our Thermy investment.   

And it does still taste really good.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Pizza Dough

I normally make pizza dough in my Kitchen Aid.  I found a pizza dough recipe in the Thermomix book.

I decided, of course, to use Thermy but not the Thermy recipe. This was because I use 00 flour, not strong flour,  and so the quantities for water etc were different.

Yhe Thermy method worked well. I had to add more water to my dough, as it didn't come together enough.

When it was kneaded though, it looked pretty good.  I rolled it into a sausage, took hold of each end, and then flipped it up and down gently to see how it stretched.... it looked good.

I let it rise for a couple of hours, then cut it in two, One half went into the freezer, with a note that it "needs 2nd rise". The other lot had its second rise.

I emptied a 500ml jar of home made passata into a small frying pan, and put it on to reduce. 

After 15 minutes, I put the oven on with the pizza stone in.

After 3/4 of an hour, the passata was a very reduced thick paste. I stirred in some Italian Herbs from a tube (very lazy on my part, I know), and turned the heat down to a simmer.  5 minutes later I turned the heat off and left it.

One hour after putting the dough in for its second rise, I retrieved it. Rolled it out, put it on a pizza peel, turned up the edges to stop the toppings sliding off. Then I put on the reduced tomato sauce, some mozzarella, and marked the half way point. I put mushrooms on my halg, MH put garlic sausage on his.  I sprinkled black pepper, and then some parmesan.  Then, slid it on to the pizza stone.

5 minutes later, we were almost done, just another minute to crisp the crust.



I love semolina. 

My mum used to make it on the hob, I didn't realise until very late on that it was possibe to put semolina in the oven to bake.   Even when I discovered that,  it seemed to take too long, and I found I could get a lovely type of "skin" by letting it simmer away on the hob in a non stick saucepan.

I was interested to see if I could cook Semolina in my Thermy, mainly because the thermy would do the stirring part for me.   I searched online for recipes, and found all sorts of semolina recipes - but none of them were the simple milk+butter+semolina+sugar one that I was looking for.

Eventually I decided to make it in the Termy, but use my standard recipe and timings.

I fitted the whisk, then  put milk and a knob of butter on to heat.  After a couple of minutes, I added the semolina, turned the heat up to 100, and let it carry on stirring at speed 1 for about 12 minutes. At the end of the time, I added some sugar (don't add before, it interferes with the cooking process), and then put thermy back on for 5 minutes at temp 100 speed 1.

It tasted cooked, but was a bit gloopier than normal.  I'm not sure why - I suspect it was because I had continued to stir with the whisk. On the hob I wouldn't have stirred at all.   It might have been because I had the temperature too high,  and it might have been because it cooked for longer than was necessary.

It was very edible.  It had also started to catch on the bottom of Thermy , and because Thermy isn't non stick,  that part was wasted.

I will definitely try again, with some adjustments.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Coleslaw, Coffee, and Kedgeree

Made a very appetising coleslaw today.   I started by chopping the carrots before adding the rest of the vegetables this time.  I added a small garlic clove, some ready made mayo, some greek yoghurt and a bit of wine vinegar.

The pieces were very small, I let it blitz for too long.  Tasted lovely.

Later, I made an iced coffee, and I'll be making that again.

MH is using it to cook his dinner, Kedgeree.  I don't like Kedgeree, but he really does, and it's looking like the Thermomix is going to be good for this too.

I also made a sourdough loaf - but I didn't use Thermy for that.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Tomato and lentil soup

I went out to dinner. MH made tomato and lentil soup, using our home made passata. Success!


I wanted to make a 500g loaf, with some ground seeds, some wholemeal flour, and a bit of rye flour. I used the quantities from my bread machine book. Thermy mixed and then kneaded beautifully, but the dough eas too wet. I added a biy more flour and kneaded by hand. I then put it in a banneton, put the banneton in a plastic bag and left it on my windsowsill to rise. I forgot about it for hours, and when I remembered it hasd risen and collapsed a bit. I heated my oven using the bread setting and a stone. I poired the soggy dough onto the pizza stone and baked it. It turned out better than it looked. The lack of success was completely down to me.


I make butter in large quantities, usually converting 8 to 10 litres of double cream in one session.   For years I have used my KitchenAid(KA), and have worked out a production line to do it efficiently.

The downsides are that is a bit messy - when the butter forms, the buttermilk sloshes out of the bowl - and it's hard to get butter off the beaters.  We've partiallly solved the messiness, by adapting a Kitchen Aid bowl lid to fit on the machine whilst the beater is in use.

I'd heard that Thermy could be used for buttermaking.  I wasn't convinced.  Vitamix also make that claim and, yes, you can get butter - but it's hard to get it out of the container, and a lot of it gets stuck around the blade.

I decided to try a comparison test today.

It's not ideal conditions. It's very hot outside, and this always makes the process more difficult.  My measurements are also not scientific, I didn't clean the bowls completely in between times etc.

TEST1: Follow the the Thermy Recipe.

Maximum 1 litre (I put 1.5 litres in my KA normally, so even if this works it's going to mean 10 runs instead of 6).

The speed that the TM book said was quite fast. I'm already anticipating failure.  Butter making isn't about fast, you need the butterfat molecules to gently bang together and combine to make butter. Too fast and you end up with nothing more than whipped cream.

After some time, sorry didn't measure how long, I was stuck with whipped cream.

I scraped down and carried on.  Eventually, it turned into butter and buttermilk.  I poured off the buttermilk and put the butter back on again for a few secs (to spin more buttermilk out), drained, repeated.

The butter looked OK, good so far.  And it didn't splash everywhere.

Now,  the TM handbook also says you can wash the butter.  I normally do this in a colander and with a running cold water tap.   I followed the TM instructions. I measured in about 500ml of water, spun it, drained it. Repeated, until the water was clearish.

By this time my butter was rather runny.  This could be the heat,  or it could be the beating has whipped it full of air,  or it could be it incorporated water.   I didn't measure the waste water, so I can't tell.

Preliminary Results:
271ml Buttermilk
697g Butter, which is white and very soft

Initial Conclusion:
Not enough buttermilk extracted.  If I was using the butter immediately, it would be OK. But if I intend to keep it for a couple of days, it will go rancid very quickly 

Control Test - KA
One litre of milk, to match the others.  This also took quite some time to turn, more than normal,  so I guess the ambient temperature (it being a baking hot day) is a factor here.

Preliminary Results:
332ml Buttermilk
557g Butter, which is yellow and quite firm

Test 2: Use the whisk.
Expectation: This will fail.  I once tried to do this in my Magimix food processor (I swapped that for another brand last year).  I bent the egg whisk,  I could see this being similar.  However, the whisk is a bit more robust.

One litre of cream, speed 4.   This turned into butter very quickly.  I drained the buttermilk, and put it bac on for another spin.  The whisk couldn't move. (I'm not surprised).  I took the whisk out and carried on without.

Preliminary Results:
258ml Buttermilk
884g Butter, which is white and very thin.

Initial Conclusions:
Not enough buttermilk extracted,.  If I was using the butter immediately, it would be OK. But if I intend to keep it for a couple of days, it will go rancil very quickly  

This looked much better after the first spin than the "Test 1" version. If the whisk had been stronger (more like a beater) then this probably would have been more successful

Test 3 - Follow TM recipe, but wash manually

Preliminary Results:
180ml Buttermilk
750g Butter

This result - the worst of all so far - was possibly accidentally sabotaged by me trying to use the spatula to help churn.

Test 4 - Use TM, no whisk, but mix only at speed 4.  For washing, use reverse blade at low speed
This initially looked really promising. The butter was slower to churn than using the whisk, but it was the same golden colour intially.

This time I measured the water that I put in for washing, and the water I drained off.

Preliminary Results:
295ml Buttermilk
680g Butter

1550ml water used to wash butter, 1432ml recovered.

This is the most promising version.  My water recovery was OK for the first and second spins, it went wrong in the third spin.

I need to work on this option some more. Good job I have 10 litres of cream. 

Test 4 - Use TM, no whisk,  mix only at speed 4, wash by hand

Preliminary Results:
290ml Buttermilk
736g Butter

Butter is still pale, but much firmer than previous attempts

Test 5 - Use TM, no whisk,  mix only at speed 4, drain, mix again on reverse at low speed to eject more buttermilk, then wash by machine using reverse blade at low speed

Preliminary Results:
320ml Buttermilk
675g Butter

Annoyingly I managed to spill the measured water everywhere so I have no idea how effective it was. However, I can see from the final weight that a good amount of water had been ejected.

Butter after the extraction was a good colour and relatively firm.  It was softer and paler after washing.

Test 6 - Repeat test 5, but then wash by hand
679g butter

Test 7 - TM, no whisk, speed 4, drain, a second, drain, second, drain, wash by hand
This was going well, but I couldn't resist putting in a fast flick - this resulted in the expelled buttermilk being re-absobed.
Preliminary Results:
280 ml Buttermilk
690g Butter

 Test 8 - lower speed
Hopeless. After 4 minutes I didn't even have whipped cream.  I had to rescue it.

Test 9, TM, no whisk, speed 4, drain,  quick flick at 4, drain, quick flick at 4, drain,  wash at low speed on reverse

Test 10, TM, no whisk, speed 4, drain,  quick flick at 4, drain, quick flick at 4, drain,  wash by hand

Tests 9 and 10 worked well, sadly I threw away the bit of paper with the measurements on.  One of them expelled 330ml of buttermilk. Test 10 also expelled almost all of the washing water.

Salting the Butter

I tried using Thermy to salt the butter.  I had mixed success - in fact, I won't know whether some of the attempts worked until  I try the butter.

What I've learned is:
  • It works best with no more than 500g of butter in. Anymore and it has trouble blending it properly
  • Mix on about 4 for a bit, then a quick final spin at a fast speed

Garlic Butter
I peeled some Garlic in the thermy, then chopped garlic, thyme and a bit of sage together, then mixed in some unsalted butter.  I put iy into a silicone ice cube mould to freeze

With all the faffing about, measuring, weighing etc, it took forever.  I also made more mess than I've ever made before making butter.

I will try the Thermy again next time, and I'll stick to:
  • 1 litre
  • Speed 4
  • Drain, 2 sec speed 4, drain, 2 sec speed 4, drain, etc
  • Not sure whether I'll use Thermy to wash or wash by hand.
A production line might be more efficient where I use the KA to salt the butter.  I can easily put 1 to 1.5 kg in yje KA bowl, so I could be salting and potting while Thermy continued to churn.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

And a last minute thing

I chopped the ends of a couple of cucumbers in the Thermy, for my house chook.

Shes been out all day (in the shade of a Pampas) but hasn't drun much - certainly not enough. She came in very late, about 9pm. Cucumber is a good way of getting water into her crop, fairly quickly.

I fred up Thermy and dropped the ends of the Cucumber in, then switched it straight off.  Small pieces (too small for people), and she was a happy bunny,

Quick rinse, and it's clean.

First full meal

We chose to steam some fish.

So.. We chopped ginger and garlic in Thermy, scraped or into a bowl and added the remaining marinade ingredients (oil,  soy sauce, sugar) to that.

We then put water on the Thermy bowl, and added coconut milk.  Weighed rice ( should have done this first), rinsed it, and put it on to steam. Veggies were also steaming in the  aroma

Whilst that was cooking, we spread the marinade over the fish.

After a few minus, we put the fish on, for 15 minutes.

Very easy. Will do again.
Veg was a smidgen overdone, I like mine crunchy.
Rice smidgeon overdone, but very acceptable.  Couldn't taste coconut.
Fish,  barramundi, was fine.

Testing continues

After the surprise success of the carrot salad (which I can see me eating, with variations, until I'm sick of it), I thought I'd try coleslaw.

Recipes for Thermy Coleslaw abound,  all I really wanted was a rough idea of the proportions, and what speed to use.

In the end I made it up, as  MH doesn't eat this sort of thing and I only wanted a small amount.    I just used some white cabbage, carrot, onion, some of the garlic from earlier, and  some celery.  I chopped it briefly, then scraped down and added the wet ingredients.  I put in some white wine vinegar (too much),  some Hellman's mayonnaise,  some Greek Yoghurt, salt, pepper, lemon juice.   I then mixed it on reverse. Another scrape down, another mix. And there I had it.

It was, of course, small chopped pieces. When I make it by hand, it's more..sliced.  However, it tasted very fresh and pleasant.  I had used too much white wine vinegar, so the mayo was too runny. However, it was very edible.  I'm sure this is something I will keep tweaking.

Vegetable Puree
I then wanted to make pea puree.  I put a small amount of water on to boil, and looked for my frozen petits pois.  I couldn't find them.    By the time I had checked, and checked again, and asked MH, and checked again,  the water was boiling. In the end I steamed some broccoli.

When it was cooked, I threw away the water (which I never do, I usually freeze it for gravies).  I then blitzed the broccoli, ending up with - blitzed broccoli. Not a puree at all.  I then realised that I should probably have blitzed it with some of the water.   I possibly also should have swapped bowls, as my bowl was still hot.  That wouldn't have mattered if I'd left some water in.  Overall, that was a fail. I'm sorry to say I scraped the bowl into the bin.   I like broccoli, but not like this.

Next, I made a smoothie.  I used my typical smoothie ingredients which I used  to make in the Vitamix, and then started using my food processor when I sold the VM.   Some greek yoghurt, some Kefir, a frozen small banana, some frozen fruit, some flaxseed.  Blitz on high.    This was good, but I didn't leave it blitzing for long enough.  It usually takes about 4 minutes in my food processor to get really smooth and creamy.  I blitzed it for maybe 30 seconds, which blended it but left a lot of bittiness.   I'll try it for longer next time. 

It's here...initial tests

Well, it arrived.  Unpacked, washed it, and then waited for MH to come home so we could try a few things.

Peeling Garlic
We started by trying the "peel garlic" trick. Half a dozen cloves, reverse blades, a few seconds on speed 4.
Mixed results. Not a failure, but not perfectly clean.

Retest: cur the root ends off cloves first.  Much better.

Mincing Garlic
We followed the instructions in the book and achieved chopped garlic.  We didnt manage to get a garlic paste, probably need more garlic or more ingredients to achieve that.

Chopping Vegetables
Chopped carrot - very happy.

Of course Thermy isn't really designed for prepping individual ingredients.  It's designed to do multiple things at once.  My next attempt was a simple vegetable salad.

Vegetable Salad
I chose carrots and white cabbage (didn't want to do too many things at once and these were nearest at hand. I found a recipe to use as a guideline as I wasn't sure what proportions to use. I halved the recipe.  I added the required amount of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and parsley, and blended for a few seconds. The original recipe called for baby carrots but I only had big carrots. I peeled and chopped them a bit.

Result!  The salad was properly mixed. The carrot was a bit large, so I put it on for another couple of seconds.  It was perfect.  I ate the whole bowlful.

When I make casseroles or bolognese I always start with chopped onion, garlic, carrot and - if i have any - celery.    I tried this in Thermy. One half (by weight) was onion, a quarter eacy of onion and carrot, and a bit of garlic (Actually I just used the garlic I had minced earlier).

Speed 7, a few seconds. Perfect.  This makes me VERY happy.. 

I'm going to try coleslaw next. Or pureed peas. Or muchroom pate.  Or should I make some dough? Or a sauce?  Or a sorbet?

Thermy Day is here

In anticipation of Thermy's arrival, I had a few extras delivered with my shopping.  Actually, I booked a delivery so I could have a range of things to try out in the Thermy.  I needed quite a few other domestic bits, so I would probably have booked a delivery sometime in the next week anyway, and it  might as well have been today.  Which translates to "Although the Thermy caused me to place an order, most of my delivery was non-Thermy related".

I haven't gone to Costco yet to get the cream for butter.  It's so hot, I think the cream might not churn well, even in my KitchenAid, so I'll maybe go later in the week.

Ive finally received my courier notification telling me what time to he (by "he" I mean the courier, not Thermy) is due to be here.

I'm feeling a mixture of subtle excitement (is that a contradiction in terms?),  plus some nervousness (Will I like it? Will it be worth the money? Will I use it?), and a huge dose of sheepishness (that I am feeling anything at the prospective arrival of a household blender. ). Perhaps that's a double dose of sheepishness (that I am writing a blog about it).

I'll update later.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Definitely Wednesday

I received my order confirmation yesterday, and my Thermy will definitely be here on Wednesday.

It's too hot to make butter, so that'll have to wait.

I'm wondering whether to buy some stuff (whatver "stuff" means) to try it out with.

No. I'll wait until I get the books that go with it, have a look through, and then decide what to get to try.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Can't eat until Wednesday!

I need to make butter this week, we're down to our lost pat.   I'm "waiting until Wednesday so I can see if it works in the Thermomix".

I wanted Pizza yesterday, but thought we might have it after Wednesday.

Discussing dinner tonight, MH opted for meatballs in a tomato sauce with pasta.   We defrosted beef mince, pork mince and lardons.  When I came to make it, I realised that this would also be a good test for the Thermy - how well it would combine the ingredients, without turning them to mush.

I mentioned it to MH, and he laughed and said that he had thought the same thing but speculated that whilst the Thermy was obviously good at mixing while it chopped,   we didn't know how good it's mixing functionality would be on stuff already chopped.  (The fact that he had thought about any of this  was quite a surprise,and shows he obviously is looking forward to trying the new thing out. 

We agreed that we probably shouldn't eat anything until Wednesday!

As I made the meatballs, I also realised that I could have used the Thermy to chop the parsley,  and I could have put some ground lentils in either the meatballs or  the sauce.  I suspect the blade on reverse (so it doesn't chop) would probably mix reasonably well.

In fact, I could have heated the passata in the Thermy, and tried steaming the meatballs over the top.


I always cook in bulk and now, in addition to tonight's dinner, I have two  x 2 person meals worth of meatballsfor the freezer.

It'll be a while before we put this to the test.

The Demo

Firstly, Natarsha showed us how the Thermomix can be used to mill things like rice (to make rice flour), lentils, or anything.   This is something the Vitamix (VM) is excellent at doing, although with the VM you need to use the dry container.

We milled red lentils.  I was intrerested in seeing how the milling process worked, because I have quite a few wholefoods in my cupboards. I wasn't particularly interested in red lentils as I don't eat them. I like puy lentils, but not the red ones.

Natarsha said about using the milled red lentils as a thickener in soups and stews. She later added these to the soup, and it worked really well.  I'll definitely be using this moving forward.
Next, she milled some of the mixed seeds I'd put out to use in the bread.  As well as using whole seeds to make seeded rolls, she used some of the ground seeds to enrich the bread flour

Mill seeds to enrich bread flour
Mill other things (like the lentils) to enrich the bread flour
Bread Dough
This was really fast, much faster than I expected, and it looked like it had worked really well.  I'll be interested to see how well the machine works with other dough types (like sourdough,  foccaccia, etc). 
After proving,  we baked the rolls in the oven and had them with the soup.
Once the dough has been tipped out, put the bowl back and give it a quick buzz, This will flick the remaining dough off the blades.  That's really great!

Bread Crumbs
Next, two slices of fresh bread, a peeled clove of garlic,  some parmesan (including the rind) and some parsley were whizzed up.    It was remarkably quick (<15 seconds) and the results were much better than I expected.  The crumbs smelt fantastic, and I could see us using this type of thing for coating fish, or with pasta, or whatever  .
Freeze extra and use from frozen,

You can even use the parmesan rind
Fruit Sorbet
Some Ice, some fruit, some sugar. There was also a little bit of manual work required to churn the sorbet while the machine worked.     Result - a very acceptable sorbet,
Further blending and we had a very creamy one,
This worked much better than the VM, no need to get that vortex. But some manual effort was required.

Added an egg white (I'm always looking for used for egg white), switch to the butterfly whisk, and a very light and creamy result.

I wonder if it can make custard based ice cream?

Cheese Sauce 
Cheese sauce is very easy to make on the hob, but this was even you don't have to stand and stir/whisk it.   The smell was heavenly.

Carrot and Coriander soup
This was amazing.  The soup was really good (although it didn't taste particularly carrotty). The texture was like velvet.  I hadn't expected to be particularly interested in the soup,  but it was really lovely.  MH ate all of his and really liked it.   He didn't like soups made in the VM because, although they were very smooth, they always tasted like hot raw vegetables

Steamed Veg
While the soup was cooking, we steamed vegetables on the top.  These were going to be used in a gratin along with the cheese sauce (and the crumb). 

Oh, this was delicious.

During the demo, Natarsha also talked about other things the Thermie could do.    We were impressed by it's ability to mix as well as chop, and she mentioned making mixed salads.  This is definitely on my "to do" list.

At some point during the demo, I was sold.  I don't know when it happened, I thnk it was early on,

I could really see both myself and MH using it.  I decided that I'd take the plunge.  If another model was released in September, well,  I'd deal with that then. I emailed Natarsha the next day to place my order.  

Everyone at the demo was seriously impressed with it.  One of them might even place an order as well. 

I decided to make a list of all the things I wanted to try... and that's when I decided to start a blog.

Hopefully my machine will be here soon, and I can get started!


Sunday, 20 July 2014

D-Day - and before

 I cleaned my oven. I knew we'd been making bread, so the oven was required. My oven was an embarrassement.  I clean it, completely, with OvenMate probably 4 times a year, but it needs doing every month.   I think its made worse by the way I cook my sourdough bread - I put a tray underneath when the oven is heating up, and then I put cold water into it when the bread goes in, to create steam.  The steam loosens the gunk so it tends to spread as the oven cools. 

I washed the kitchen floor. I cleaned my worktops.  I put stuff away. I made sure my bathroom and downstairs toilet were clean.

D-Day morning:
I laid out the dry ingredients from Natarsha's list, in order listed on her sheet (which turned out not to be helpful).

I peeled carrots. I zested a lemon. I separated an egg.

I moved the frozen fruit to an accessible parto fthe freezer. I moved the chilled ingredients to an accessible part of the fridge.

I got out the specified number of bowls and spoons, a gratin dish, a tray for baking bread rools. 

Natarsha arrived, and we chatted as she set up.

My brother phoned to say he'd had a bit of a problem at home, and he would be 15 minutes late.

My next door neighbour arrived.

No sign of my Aunt, which was most unusual.    I checked the bus times, and was a little worried as the bus should have arrived about ten minutes ago and is less than 5 mins walk from our house.   I looked down the road and couldn't see her.     I phoned her, and she sounded out of breath. It was a hot day, and she was walking from the bus stop. I could see her coming down the road.

Introductions, cold drinks all round, and we decided to get started, without my brother.

This was it.

D-Day minus 3. Could we cancel?

A few days before the demo,  out of the blue, we joined an airgun club. 

What has this got to do with my Thermomix story?

We had borrowed guns from the people at the Clun to try out. We couldn't expect them to keep letting us use their weapons, so we wanted to at least get one gun between is, something fairly inexpensive and secondhand.   We learned that one of the best game fairs in the country was taking place at Blenheim the  weekend of the Demo, on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Lots of gun sellers, a fantastic opportunity to try lots of guns and find what suited.

Except MH was away at the weekend.  And on Friday evening we had Monty Python.  And on Friday morning, we had that bloody Thermomix demo.     

Never mind.  MH couldn't change his weekend commitment. And there would be other game fairs.  I checked. There weren't.

We looked at each other.  We could get to Blenheim and back on the Friday in time for Monty Python, but only if I cancelled the demo.  After all, It wasn't as if I was going to buy a Thermomix yet.
I couldn't do it. I couldn't cancet.   It was too short notice, and I couldn't mess Natarsha around - or all the people who had kindly agreed to come along.    Maybe if I hadn't had all the earlier messing about with dates, I might have done it...but I just couldn't do it. 

Bloody Thermomix. 

No. I won't be getting a Thermie.

I'd booked he date, we'd be finished and still have time to get to the 02 for Monty Python.

I contacted my potential attendees.

First, I asked my Vitamix-loving brother if he'd like to come.  I'd be interested in hearing what he thought of it, as he uses his VM for everything.

I asked my Auntie Joy, who had kindly agreed to trog over to Chiswick with me.

I asked my lovely DIL (Daughter in Law), but i knew she would probably have to decline. She was going to Monty Python (in fact, we were going as their guests), and I realised that she would have childcare issues on this day.  However, she was the one person I could see who might find a Thermie a cost-effective addition, so I asked her anyway.  Sadly, she wasn't able to come.

I asked my next door neigbour.  I was a bit embarrassed, as I didn't want her to think it was the sort of product party where you had to buy something.    When I asked her if she would be interested in coming for a demo for a kitchen product she mentioned immediately "Is it a Thermomix?". Her friend has one and rates it highly, and she'd love to come.

So, everything was booked. 

I got my list of required ingredients. We had most things, I just needed to get fresh vegetables for the gratin, and to buy some parsley and coriander. We have both herbs in the garden, but they had become too stressed in heat and weren't looking very edible. 

Whilst this was happening, I started to question what I was doing spending all this money on a souped up blender.   I wasn't actually missing my Vitamix.  Without it, I was using my food processor more, and that was doing a splendid job of everything that I had used my Vitamix for. (I used it for chopping vegetables, onions, garlic; I used it for fantastic smoothies; I used  it to make the most amazing hot chocolate. Hardly anything that it was designed for.)

And then I decided I wasn't  going to buy a Thermomix.  

I'd wait until September (which was the speculated launch date) . If the new model didn't come out, then I'd get one.  It would do me good to wait, and to see if I really wanted it after all.

Part of me now felt that I was getting Natarsha here under false pretences.  When I started the booking process with her, I was 100% sure I was a done deal, I had the money ready and everything.  Now, I was sure I wouldn't be buying one.   I talked to MH about it, and explained my reasons .    I know that he only really had a passing interest in whether or not I bought one, and that he probably wasn't planning on using it if I di.  I suspect that  he was only coming to the demo (a) out of mild curiousity, (b) because it was happening in his kitchen, and (c) because I'd asked him to. 

It was too late now, I couldn't cancel. Not after all the farting about.


About a week before the Demo, the Demonstratorcontacted me to say that currently I was the only person booked on that date.  She would only run it with a minimum of 2 people – did I have anyone else who would come along?

I didn’t want to ask MH (my husband) to trog over to Chiswick to see this machine. Actually I didn’t want him to seeit at all until I had it straight in my mind.

I could have asked my brother, who is a Vitamix devotee,  but I wanted to keep him in reserve for when I had a Thermomix demo at home. 

So, I asked my aunt Joy if she would come along with me. To my delight, she agreed.  She has a Vitamix too, so would probably enjoy the demo.

A couple of days before the Demo, I discovered I had chicken pox.

I had to cancel the demo (and cancel lots of other things, but that’s not part of this Blog).   I told Natarsha (the Demonstrator) that I would re-book later.

The chicken pox took nearly 3 weeks.  I had kept my eye on the Demonstrator dates page on the Thermomix website, but there weren’t many dates offered.  I wondered what was going on.    I wondered whether it was to do with the possible imminent arrival of a new model?   I emailed them to ask.  Turns out they weren’t updating the page anymore, and should have removed it.

Natarsha kept her own website and Facebook page, and I watched the dates on there.  I wanted a weekday daytime session.    There weren’t any.  At least, not for public demos. She offered lots of public demos at weekends, at evenings…; lots of demonstrator open days, and training days….

Time passed.

No convenient dates appeared.  I wondered whether maybe I should just have a demo at my house, and forget the idea of me going to one first?

I looked at our diaries. I emailed Natarsha to ask if she could switch a specific  one of her daytime public demos (if it didn’t have any attendees of course) to a private demo at my house. I promised to invite other people as well.    That wasn’t possible, as the date for the public demo was widely publicised.   As an alternative, Natarsha asked if maybe MH and I could go to her public demo, and then have a separate demo at my house later?  Not possible on this particular date as I had a commitment later in the day and wouldn’t be able to get back in time.

Maybe it was fate, and I should put the money I had saved up to better use.

I looked for other dates at her house from myself and MH, thinking I’d have a private demo as well in  August/September.    I found a date at the end of July, and emailed to book two places.
Booking confirmed…but just in case I was thinking of buying a Thermomix, there was an offer on which ended on 25th July.  A whole bundle of cookbooks (value £107) were being included,  and there hadn’t been such an offer ever.  I looked back over previous offers, and Natarsha was right.

Instead of thinking “Wow, must do this”, it had the opposite effect. My suspicions were raised.  Was this Thermomix clearing the decks of old stock in anticipation of a new model being released?   There was even more speculation about this online, with someone or other presenting evidence of Thermomix visiting the Australian HQ in August, and all Aussie Demonstrator training cancelled in August.  Thermomix is huge in Australia, so it would be one of their launch markets.

Well, I wasn’t going to buy a Thermie now, was I?  I’d rather wait until September and get the speculated new model.  There didn’t seem any point in changing the demo. 

But then…what if I saw it and wanted to buy it, I’d kick myself for missing the offer.

OK, perhaps the best thing would be to book a date before the offer expired, and then at least I’d have the choice.

I emailed Natarsha again, and we agreed a date earlier in July.   I needed a couple of extra people there, and  if I could get 3 separate households new to Thermie (excluding us) then I’d get a host gift.   I wasn’t too fussed about that, I’d read about the cheap tea towels etc that were offered and I didn’t need anything like that.

So, we had a date, and I just needed to invite some other people.  If I still worked in an office, I’d have had lots of people to invite. But I didn’t, and I didn’t know that many people who would be free on a weekday day and might be interested in seeing the demo.  The people I could invite probably wouldn’t be interested in a Thermomix (and would probably think I was off my head for contemplating spending all that money on a glorified blender).

And then I realised I’d booked the demo for the same day that we were meant to be going to see Monty Python.  

Crap timing.

In the Beginning

I've been considering a Thermomix (or Thermie/Thermy) for 18 months or so now.

I can't remember where I first saw it... I think it may have noticed them sitting (unused) on the benches on Professional Masterchef and then tried to find out what they were.

The search resulted in me discovering a whole new world. The Thermimix community is enormous, especially in Australia.  Owners tend to evangalise about their machines, with people claiming that their lives have been changed.  Only a few voices said they'd bought one and regretted it.

I was surprised at the price, especially given the guarantee was only 2 years.   It was £880 or thereabouts in the UK.   I had thought my Vitamix (at £400) was quite a lot of money to spend on a blender.  Still, it wouldn't be the only expensive kitchen machine I had bought and I never buy expensive household equipment without being reasonably confident I'll get good use out of it. I've had relatively few failures (my Remoska was one) and quite a few that have been fantastic and I''d wished I'd bought them sooner.

I was already a Vitamix owner, although I didn't make that much use of it.   In terms of my successes/failures, I  would put the Vitamix in the "success" category, but only just. It It was enough of a success that I didn't regret buying it, it was excellent at the things I used it for.   I more regretted that I just couldn't get myself to do al the wonderful things that it could do.

My husband (MH) didn't really like the soups from it. They were smooth, which he liked, but they always still tasted like they were uncooked.  That's fine if you like raw veg, but not so great if you don't.   In the year we had the Vitamix, MH did not use it once. Mind you, at that stage I don't think he'd ever used the food processor or the KitchenAid either, but they probably didn't add anything to his style of cooking whereas the Vitamix might have done.

As soon as I read up about it, I started to save for a Thermomix.  it wasn't that I couldn't have found the money to buy one then and there, it was just that I was concerned I'd buy it and then not get value out of it. In these cases, I find it helpful to walk away and leave it for a while, and see how I feel after a break.    

Saving up for it would take some time and, if I could fund most of it from pin-money, I wouldn't mind so much if it turned out to be a white elephant and had to be sold.  Little pockets of money were squirrelled away:  Quidco cashback,  voucher spend (wherever I used, say, vouchers earned on my credit card or Boots Advantage Points for things I would be buying anyway,   I put the money I "saved" into my Thermy pot.   I added in Ebay sales whenever I had a clear out, and so on.

Meanwhile,I asked my friends - both real life and friends on a forum I frequent -  whether they had ever heard of it.  None had.

I watched a lot of YouTube demos. I thought about what I would use it for.  I was realistic about what (if any) of my kitchen appliances it would really replace.

Vitamix?  Expectation: Yes, I can see it replacing my Vitamix.   My expectation is that it will do what my Vitamix does (maybe differently), and more.

Food Processor? Expectation: No.  It doesn't slice, nor does it properly grate - it chops.  I learned with the Vitamix (VM) that cheese grating etc is a lie, the VM just chops the cheese into smallish pieces. , I'm also not sure that the Thermie  can make very small quantities of hollandaise sauce (I love Eggs Benedict).

KitchenAid? Expectation: No.  I can see that the Thermie can make batter type cakes, butI dont believe it'll make decent sponge cakes.      I also use my KitchenAId to make butter (I convert 8-10litres of cream in one mammoth buttermaking session every few months).  The VM was meant to be able to make butter.   Well, yes, kind of, in small quantities, but you can't get it out of the damned jug.

Bamix/Hand Blender Hmm, maybe. Although a stick blender is a handy thing to have. I guess I could sell the Bamix and buy a cheap hand blender instead.
I have more kitchen appliances, maybe I'll talk about those later.

The other reason for my hesitation in jumping in was that  I was very aware that the current model had been launched back in 2004. I was concerned that that I'd buy the machine and then Vorwerk would bring out a new improved model. The second hand market would be flooded with used  TM31s and I'd be regretting not wiating for the new improved machine. There were lots of things which supported this speculation: a new factory had been built, there was a lot of chatter on the various Thermomix websites and blogs.

Over the next few weeks (maybe months, it's hard to remember), I kept going back to look into it,  I just couldn't make up my mind.  In the end, I decided I'd go to a public demo, onmy own, to see whether it actually lived up to the hype.  If it did, I would tell MH about it, and arrange a demo at home.
We live fairly close to Thermomix UK head office, and I wanted to go to a public demo there. They had demos fairly frequently, I just needed to find one which was happening at a time when MH wasn't around so that I didn't have to explain about it.

It proved difficult to attend a demo "in secret".  Eventually, I told MH that I was thinking of getting spending a small fortune on a piece of kitchen equipment which was kind of like an advanced Vitamix.   Of course he pointed out that I didn't use the VM for much beyond chopping vegetables, making gravy, making hot chocolate and smoothies.  I know him well enough to know that he was just trying to understand, so I sent him the links and told him that honestly I didn't know if it would be any good but I'd like to look.

There weren't any Thermomix demos scheduled at head office, so I got on with other things, and checked back every so often to see whether dates had been added.   Demonstrator demos were listed, but there weren't any Demonstrators near me.

Then one of my forum friends, who had investigated Thermomix after my questions,  mentioned that she had been to a demo and was so impressed that she had bought one.  When it arrived, she was so enthusiastic about it, and it re-awoke my interest.

There were still no demos at Head Office. I re-read up on Thermies, and decided to sell my Vitamix (VM) while it had plenty of guarantee left.  If I bought a Thermie, I wouldn't need the VM.  This also gave me the final amount of money I needed so that I could buy one anyway.

After a long time, I emailed Head Office to ask when they would start scheduling demos again.

They were no longer doing demos. I had to go through a Demonstrator.

That was a bit of a setback.  I didn't want to go and see a Demonstrator, not until I was in the buying groove.  I searched through the list to find the locations of my nearest Demonstrators, and they were all more than 45 minutes drive away.  Not a huge amount, but it was a bit of a nail in the coffin.

Out of the blue, MH asked me when I would be getting a Thermomix.  I was a bit surprised, as I know his tactic for dealing with my flights of fancy are usually to leave me to raise the subject. That way,  they will either  die a natural death because they were really only a passing whim, or they would turn into reality.  This spurred me into action ('m not sure that's what he intended),

I googled the three closest Demonstrators.  One of them didn't really seem to have any info, two did.  Hmm.   Of the two, one had blts of info about Thermomix, she was obvously into it in a big way.  She was based in Chiswick.  That put me off a bit.   I don't have anything against Chiswick, but it's a moneyed area, and I imagined that the demo would be full of yummy mummies and I'd just wouldn't fit in.
In the end, the choice came down to the dates that were being offered. 

I bit the bullet. I picked a date. I emailed the Demonstrator to book a place.

And that's when things started to go a bit wrong.