IT’S ALL ABOUT EASY
One of my students, who has been reading my blog and wants to provide healthier food for her family, commented that her cooking/food-prep style is all about EASY. I can totally get into that.
My first questions to her were about her kitchen equipment. She has knives. Okay, well, I started out with one knife (which I still have) and a cutting board. That’s easy, but not so easy, if you start to get into preparing anything more adventurous than a salad.
I suggested that she start out with a good quality food processor, because that is what she will probably end up using the most (I know that’s the thing that gets the biggest workout in my kitchen!). For a few years, after I decided that I needed a food processor, I worked with cheap ones, because that is all I could afford. One after another broke. When I was on the third one and I saw that it was headed for the graveyard, I started saving so that I could buy a Cuisinart food processor when it went on sale at Macy’s (I’d seen them go on sale for @half-price every couple of months, so I decided to get one the next time that happened. I have never regretted the $80 spent – my Cuisinart has now lasted longer than all three fo the food processors I had before, put together!
With a food processor, you can grind nuts and seeds, chop or puree vegetables and/or fruit, make pates, and shred vegetables or slice them (I still like to slice with a knife, though). You can make apple sauce or grind beets or other hard vegetables (turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.) in to a nice applesauce consistency. You can make soups (and then heat them in your dehydrator if you like — Nomi Shannon, in her book Raw Food: THE ANSWERS, suggests pouring boiling water over chopped vegetables –she feels that the vegetables will not be cooked by the contact of with boiling water – you’re on your own here – if you think that will work for you, go for it)
In addition to my food processor, I also have a Magic Bullet blender thing, a Champion Juicer, and an Excalibur dehydrator. I have a VitaMix, but I broke it, and I am making do with the Magic Bullet right now, until I can afford to repair it (It broke just past the 10 year warranty, of course).
If you are just setting up, just starting out, I’d say, after the food processor, the next thing to get would be a Magic Bullet – it does simple blending (smoothies, purees, etc) and, also, does the job of a herb/nut grinder quite well.
If you are moving forward from there, I’d say it’s a toss-up between the Champion juicer and the dehydrator.
I got the Excalibur Dehydrator first,because I seriously wanted to make crackers, but, then, I had a working VitaMix at the time, and, after a consult with author Rose Lee Calabro, whose book, Living in the Raw, was my first modern raw food recipe book, and continues to be my first go-to book, I decided that I could make do with the food processor for a while longer, instead of going for the juicer right away (Calabro told me that I could get by with the food processor, but the resulting pates and nut butters would not be as fine as those I could get with the Champion juicer). I researched dehydrators ad infinitum, and, although there were cheaper choices (and I didn’t have much money), I chose to save up for the Excalibur 5 Tray with Timer , because it is easier to add and remove things as they dry, and, also, it is easier to clean – always a big plus in my world! With the Excalibur, you can pull out individual trays to check them for done-ness, so it is easy to dehydrate several different things at once (I got the 5-tray model with the timer – the only thing I would do differently would be to get the 9-tray model, because there are often times when I could use 9 trays, but, still, I do fine with 5 trays)
I finally got a 1976 vintage Champion Juicer on ebay for $80. I love it. (I have a Green Star GSE-5000 twin-auger machine that I got for $20 at Salvation Army, but I find that the Champion is a thousand times easier to clean, so..—you never see Champions in Salvation Army, and Champion is made in America)
So… my kitchen set-up right now is very simple:
Excalibur 5 Tray Dehydrator with Timer
WHAT DO I WANT NEXT?
I want to get a Nutri Bullet Hi-Speed Blender/Mixer System
next. I’ve read the reviews (I always start with the 1-star reviews first and work my way back up, and it seems that this might do the job , if I follow the instructions, while I am waiting for money to fix my VitaMix—it will certainly fit better on my shelf)