I am not a foodie, and I certainly am not Julia Childs. However, I really enjoy my time in the kitchen. I have a few favorite standbys that I whip up frequently: spinach lasagna roll-ups, chicken in wine sauce, a hearty minestrone soup. The one dessert I am known for are what my friends have tagged “Marilyn’s World Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies.” I cannot figure out what makes them so special, as I just use the recipe on the back of Nestle’s Tollhouse chocolate chips package. But somehow, I am always asked to bring them whenever I am sharing a meal with family and friends. In 2015, they had to be especially good, because my World Famous Cookies were also going to be the World’s Most Expensive.
Chocolate chip cookie batter works best when prepared with a full-stand mix master so that the butter and sugar are properly creamed and the batter is sufficiently mixed. For over twenty-five years, I used my mother’s Sunbeam that she purchased in the 1950s and that I inherited when they moved out of our big house in Keeseville in 1981. As was typical of appliances of that era, that machine got me through numerous batches of cookies and sponge cakes and mandelbrodt. In 2001, however, the motor stopped working, and the technicians at our favorite small appliance repair shop said it was no longer worth fixing.
On the advice of my friend Lynn, a master baker, I replaced the machine with a KitchenAid. For the next thirteen years, the appliance, like its predecessor, faithfully churned out my limited repertoire of culinary delights. One day, however, when I was using the mixer to make a marble bundt cake, I realized the machine had only one speed: Spin-So-Fast-That-the-Batter-Flies- Out-of-the-Bowl-Onto-the-Walls speed.
I loaded the mixer into my car’s trunk and drove to appliance repair shop to drop it off to be repaired. To my surprise, I found the store, a possible victim of our throw-away-and-just-buy-new mentality, closed up tight. My Yellow Pages and internet search for small appliance repair people also came up empty-handed. I did, however, find websites that included YouTube videos for do-it-yourselfers. “Hey,” I thought to myself. “We’re retired! We have time, and we certainly can fix this machine ourselves.”
I ordered the two parts in question from the Internet. The first, the mixer sensor, was only six dollars and was considered by our YouTube expert as a minor fix. The second part, a fairly expensive speed control board, was recommended in case the simple fix didn’t work. I reasoned that always could return it if we fixed the mixer with the less expensive part.
Although we purchased the parts soon after it broke, I found over the next few months multiple excuses for not making the repair. I was on another diet and not baking as much. I found a simple one-bowl brownie recipe that required just a spoon. When I had company for dinner, I asked my guests to bring the dessert. However, that November friends extended an invitation to their annual latke dinner, and they were insistent that I bring my World Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies. We had procrastinated long enough.
A few days later, Larry and I pulled up the mixmaster from the basement, the parts from the hall closet, and the laptop from the office. We turned on the YouTube video and began disassembling the mixer to get to the area in which we believed the speed belt was housed. After twenty minutes of unscrewing every screw on the top of the machine, we found a different video that expanded the disassembly. Twenty minute and several tries later, we were still no closer to finding where to put the &*!@ belt. We searched the Internet again, found another video, and started taking apart another component of the machine. By that time, there was grease on the tablecloth, on our hands, and on our clothes, and the table was covered with over a hundred parts, nuts, and bolts. Eureka moment: the parts I had purchased were for a newer model than the one we were going to fix. And even if the replacement parts fit into the machine, we, like all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, didn’t know how to put all the pieces back together again.
“I know you hate to get appliances for Chanukah,” said Larry. “ But if you allow me to dump this whole mess into the garbage bin, you can just purchase a new one” “Agreed,” I said.
We threw the mess that used to be a stand mixer into the trash, After some time researching replacements, I ordered a beautiful deluxe Kitchenaid in espresso, one of the fifteen color options available. We were back in the cookie baking business before our Chanukah dinner.
Between the parts (that were only exchangeable within thirty days) and the new mixer, we invested over $400 to make the first batch of five dozen cookies. I brought cookies and cakes to several more Clifton Park events until I brought the Kitchenmaid down to Florida. My cookies are favorites down here as well. “These are the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve tasted since my mother made them in Buffalo fifty years ago,” one friend commented. Hopefully, my new mixer will be churning them out for many years to come.